Climate Change

What is climate change?

Climate change...

  • Refers to changes in long-term trends in the average climate due to natural variability or as a result of human activity, such as changes in average temperatures and precipitation
  • Is occurring at an unprecedented rate as a result of growing greenhouse gas emissions from cars, power plants, and other human activities
  • Is causing an increase in global average temperatures, record melting of polar ice, and droughts and storms of increasing frequency and intensity

As a result of climate change, Washington state is predicted to see...

  • An increase in annual temperatures of between 2.0 and 5.3°F by the end of the century (IPCC models)
  • A decrease in snowpack as more precipitation falls as rain instead of snow
  • Altered timing and amount of stream flows
  • An increase in stream temperatures which will reduce the quality and extent of freshwater salmon habitat
  • An increase in extreme high precipitation events in the Puget Sound area resulting in greater flooding risk for low lying areas
  • An increase in the area burned by wildfires as a result of high summer temperatures and lower summer precipitation
  • Sea level rise and shoreline erosion

Effects of climate change on Lake Whatcom may include...

  • Changes in lake levels as a result of altered timing and amount of stream flows entering Lake Whatcom
  • Increased stormwater runoff flushing more contaminants and sediments into Lake Whatcom
  • Increase flood risk for low lying areas surrounding Lake Whatcom
  • Floods could overload stormwater and wastewater systems, and could damage water and sewage treatment facilities
  • Higher temperatures combined with increased nutrients entering Lake Whatcom could result in increased algal blooms on the lake surface which could exacerbate dissolved oxygen deficits
  • Higher water temperatures may force cold water fish species, like salmon, to find other more suitable habitat in order to survive
  • Increased vulnerability to invasion by aquatic invasive species that are more able to adapt to a changing environment

What can I do to help?

  • Reduce your vehicle use and carpool, take the bus, or ride your bike!
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Sign up to help with a habitat restoration project - a healthy habitat is a more resilient one!
  • Retrofit your home and yard to reduce the flow of stormwater, and contaminants, from running off your property into Lake Whatcom

Resources