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College of Arts and Sciences climate change

Scientists urge preparation for catastrophic climate change

A traffic sign that's partially submerged in flood water.With the unprecedented rapid pace of climate change, it is time to start seriously considering the worst-case scenarios warns Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler.

Kohler is part of an international team of climate experts that argue that although unlikely, climate change catastrophes, including human » More …

Launching WSU Climate Initiative teams

A hazy, reddish, city skyline.Eight Arts & Sciences faculty representing four distinct areas are members of the new interdisciplinary research teams formed during the 2022 Washington State University Climate Hackathon.

During the two-day event last spring, participants defined the scope of climate change-related challenges, shared expertise in » More …

Finding forests’ breaking point

Henry Adams examines needles on a branch..How hot is too hot, and how dry is too dry, for the Earth’s forests? A new study from an international team of researchers, including Henry Adams, assistant professor in the WSU School of the Environment, found the answers by looking at decades of dying trees.

“Widespread forest mortality is occurring worldwide,” said Adams, an expert in drought-caused deaths in trees, such as the iconic Western redcedar which » More …

Increasing trend of concurrent wildfire air pollution and severe heat

Orange skyline resulting from wildfiresLarge wildfires and severe heat events are happening more often at the same time, worsening air pollution across the western United States, a study led by Washington State University researchers has found. In 2020, more than 68% of the western U.S.—representing about 43 million people—were affected in one day by the resulting harmful-levels of air pollution, the highest number in 20 years.

“We have seen an increasing trend in » More …

Climate change and glacial stream insects

Stonefly.An endangered aquatic insect that lives in icy streams fed by glaciers might not mind if the water grows warmer due to climate change.

A study co-authored by WSU post-doctoral researcher Scott Hotaling found that mountain stoneflies can tolerate warmer water temperatures, at least temporarily.

While the study goes against the prevailing theory that rising water temperatures will be devastating for the glacial stream insects, Hotaling said this does not mean that global warming will be » More …

Too hot for habitation: archeology and climate change

The Sahara Desert.Areas of the planet home to one-third of humans will become as hot as the hottest parts of the Sahara within 50 years, unless greenhouse gas emissions fall, according to research by scientists from China, United States (at WSU) and Europe The rapid heating would mean that 3.5 billion people would live outside the climate ‘niche’ in which humans have thrived for 6,000 years. » More …

Climate change affects breeding birds

White House Finch.The breeding seasons of wild house finches are shifting due to climate change, a Washington State University researcher has found.

The effect of climate change on the breeding season of birds has been documented before, but in a limited context. Heather Watts, an avian physiologist, reported her finding in Ibis, the International Journal of Avian Science. » More …

Researcher warns of possible reprise of worst known drought, famine

Engraving showing the plight of animals as well as humans in Bellary district A Washington State University researcher has completed the most thorough analysis yet of The Great Drought — the most devastating known drought of the past 800 years — and how it led to the Global Famine, an unprecedented disaster that took 50 million lives. She warns that the Earth’s current warming climate could make a similar drought even worse.

Deepti Singh, an assistant professor in the School of the Environment, used tree‑ring data, rainfall records and climate reconstructions to characterize the conditions leading up to the Great Drought, a period of widespread » More …

Bear Watching

Chukchi Sea polar bearThe headlines paint a dire picture: By the 2030s, global warming could completely melt Arctic sea ice, imperiling the 19 known polar bear populations that range across the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.

Could, as some fear, the trend spell extinction for Ursus martimus? » More …