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Delivering science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate

NW CASC Connections is designed to help keep you -- a member of the community working to advance climate adaptation in and beyond the Northwest -- in the loop by connecting you to the latest NW CASC science, tools, opportunities and events from across our region. 

Science Spotlight
NW CASC Researchers Talk Tidal Forests, Field Work and
Navigating COVID-19

While visiting the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on the southern tip of Washington’s Puget Sound, you’ll find a mosaic of coastal wetland habitats on the Nisqually River Delta. Freshwater tidal forests, hosting deciduous trees like black cottonwood, red alder, willow, Oregon ash and bigleaf maple, rise above the tidal marshes along the delta.

Native salmon find critical habitat refuges in this woody freshwater area as they move between the river, where they spawn, and the ocean, where they live most of their lives as adults. And this is just one of many benefits plants, wildlife and humans gain from this ecosystem. This ecosystem stores carbon; plays an important role in the marine food web; provides habitat structure from large woody debris; and is a beautiful natural area. However, these vegetated lands next to streams, rivers and marine shorelines — known as marine riparian areas — have not been well studied in Puget Sound. 

To address this research gap, postdoctoral researcher Dr. Monica Moritch and NW CASC project lead Dr. Kristin Byrd recently conducted field work in Puget Sound tidal forests, including the Nisqually River Delta, to enable improved modeling of how sea level rise and management decisions affect this important habitat. This research also seeks to better understand the ecosystem services, or the benefits to people and society, that these tidal forests provide. 

Despite new challenges to conducting research in our current, socially-distant COVID reality, Monica and Kristin are embracing adaptation and finding creative ways to continue the critical work of helping our region’s natural and cultural resources adapt to climate change.

Learn More
Science Spotlight

Meet NW CASC's 2020-21 Research Fellows!

The NW CASC is excited to welcome our 2020-2021 Research Fellows as they kick off their Fellowship activities this fall. These 13 Fellows represent each of our consortium universities across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Throughout the Fellowship year, each Fellow will conduct research in close collaboration with regional natural resource managers and decision-makers to produce relevant science on climate change impacts and adaptation actions, while receiving training in the principles of actionable science. Through their innovative research, which includes investigating how receding glaciers are affecting fish habitat, exploring how local knowledge of rangelands can inform flexible management, and identifying forest management actions that enhance habitat and biodiversity while buffering climate impacts, these Fellows will help advance the mission of the NW CASC in delivering science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate. Learn more about our new Fellows and their climate adaptation research! 

Meet the Fellows
Events & Opportunities
  • Register today for NW CASC’s Actionable Science Fall Webinar Improving Ethical Practice in Transdisciplinary Research Projects on Monday, November 16, 2020. A transdisciplinary research approach requires thoughtful consideration of ethical concepts to enable working with individuals, communities and organizations as partners in, rather than subjects of, transdisciplinary research. This webinar will explore principles for improving ethical practice in transdisciplinary research in socio-ecological settings, such as appropriate representation, deference, self-determination and reciprocity. We will discuss opportunities to deepen ethical skills for researchers in all career stages. Learn more and register for the November webinar.

  • The Climate Adaptation Science Center network is preparing for several positions to come available in the next year, focused on the impacts of climate variability and change on ecosystems, natural resources, cultural resources, infrastructure, tribal lands and waters, urban and rural settlements and economic development. The network is seeking contact information for scholars with experience and interest in these subjects, as well as in developing actionable science with stakeholders with demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Learn more about these positions and how to be contacted about official job postings.

  • Join the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group as it celebrates 25 years of building climate resilience through rigorous science and innovative, cross-sector partnerships. Over the next six months, the Climate Impacts Group will host three virtual lectures related to climate resilience. The first event, scheduled for Thursday, December 3, features Climate Impacts Group scientists and partners in discussion about efforts across the state of Washington to prepare for rising sea levels and shifting ecosystems. Learn more and register for the December lecture.
  • Northwest and Southwest CASCs seek statements of interest for tribal climate adaptation research projects. In the Northwest, projects must be focused in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and/or Northern California and align with NW CASC science priorities. Federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations may submit statements of interest for this funding opportunity, and other entities (federal, state, etc.) can partner with federally recognized tribes and/or tribal organizations and receive funds through subawards. The deadline for statements of interest is December 17, 2020. See the Call for Statements of Interest.
Faces of Adaptation: Meet Eliza Ghitis

Eliza Ghitis is the climate change scientist for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) and has been a longtime member of the NW CASC’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. In her role, Eliza supports the twenty member tribes of the Fisheries Commission in evaluating and responding to the consequences of climate change for treaty-protected natural resources such as fish, shellfish, wildlife and terrestrial plants.

Says Eliza about her role, “I have learned so much from the outstanding tribal scientists, staff, leaders and community members. There is still a great deal more for me to learn from the tribes’ deep knowledge of their lands and waters and from tribal values of stewardship, inter-relationship and respect for all beings. Working with tribal communities has been a humbling, illuminating and inspiring experience.”

Learn More About Eliza

Actionable Science Resources
How can we mobilize science to support the transformational global action required by climate change? By creating a new type of scientist. A new open-access paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters emphasizes the need for science training that builds collaborative science skills at different career stages to develop a strong community of practice around actionable climate science. The paper, Building capacity for societally engaged climate science by transforming science training (Rozance et al. 2020), draws from the experiences at the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the University of Arizona Climate Assessment for the Southwest, to offer a perspective on a path for the academy to better develop, train and support scientists to conduct societally-relevant research.

Read the Paper
Uniquely Northwest: Fender's Blue Butterfly
If you find yourself in the prairies or oak savannas of the Willamette Valley in northwestern Oregon, you might be lucky enough to spot a Fender’s blue butterfly (Plebejus icarioides fenderi). A relatively small butterfly, males’ wings appear an iridescent sky blue, while females’ wings are a muted, rusty brown color. This butterfly, which is endangered due to loss of its native prairie habitat, is also facing threats from climate change. Climate-related shifts in the timing of the flower production of plants may cause mismatches between when the Fender’s blue butterfly emerges and the availability of its food (nectar). To address this issue, new NW CASC-funded research is developing a nectar calculator that allows managers to evaluate individual patches of Fender's blue habitat to ensure the butterfly has access to preferred plant resources under climate change.
Volume 2: Issue 1
Copyright © 2019 Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, All rights reserved.

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