About the Climate Impacts Group

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Overview

The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) engages in climate science in the public interest, working to understand the consequences of climate variability and climate change for the US Pacific Northwest (PNW). CIG’s unique focus is on the intersection of climate science and public policy – performing basic research aimed at understanding the consequences of climate fluctuations for the PNW, and promoting application of this information in regional decisions.

CIG's assessment examines climate impacts on four diverse, yet connected, natural systems of the PNW - water, forests, salmon and coasts - and the human socioeconomic and/or political systems associated with each. CIG works to provide regional planners, decision makers, and natural resource managers with valuable knowledge about the ways in which crucial regional resources are vulnerable to changes in climate, and how this vulnerability could best be reduced.

CIG's Research Approach

CIG’s unique focus is on the intersection of climate science and public policy

CIG’s research approach is retrospective, interdisciplinary, integrated, and contextual. We begin with an analysis of the patterns and predictability of regional climate variability and the impacts that past climate variations had on the PNW. By investigating observed regional responses to past climatic stresses, we assess the PNW’s sensitivity, adaptability, and vulnerability to climate variability. This provides a basis for suggesting how the same systems may respond to future climate change. By evaluating how human systems can adapt to better cope with or respond to climate variability, we can suggest how these same systems might adapt to future climate change.

Our approach comprises

Work with Regional Stakeholders

CIG has developed close connections with the public, private, and North American tribal groups and agencies responsible for managing the region’s water, forest, fishery, and coastal resources in order to ensure that our research results in information and products that are not only useful, but also used to shape decisions in the PNW. As a result of this interaction, CIG has gained a clear picture of the current use and perceived value of climate forecasts by natural resource managers, insight into their decision calendars, and an understanding of institutional barriers to adaptability. Stakeholders benefit from the development of improved tools and information for planning, such as resource forecasts and regional- and resource-specific interpretations of global climate change. Members of CIG’s user community are listed here.

Location

CIG is located in Seattle at the University of Washington, where it is part of the College of the Environment. Directions to the CIG offices are available here.

CIG Fact Sheet

A brief overview of CIG and its ongoing research is also available in the CIG fact sheet (PDF).