How is Climate Change Affecting the Thurston Region?
How Will Climate Change Affect the Thurston Region?
Our climate is changing in ways that will have significant implications for human and natural systems. In 2018, Thurston Regional Planning Council adopted the Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan, which includes a summary of observed and projected impacts from climate change on the Thurston region, and a vulnerability assessment of the risks those changes pose to community goals.
The region’s average annual air temperature will continue to rise over the 21st Century. While there will continue to be variability from year to year, we can generally expect to experience hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. These changes are anticipated to worsen existing hazards—like floods, landslides, and wildfires—and introduce new threats—like invasive plants, insects, and infectious diseases.
Risks and Impacts
Shrinking snowpack changes streamflow timing, affecting groundwater recharge and fish habitat.
Changing oceans threaten local subsistence and commercial fisheries.
Rising sea levels exacerbate coastal flooding and erosion and undermine infrastructure and drinking water.
Warming lakes and streams threaten water quality, increase algae blooms, impacting human health and aquatic species.
Intensifying storms increase flood damage to structures and endanger people.
Deepening droughts spur water shortages, wildfires, crop and livestock losses.
Expanding wildfires endanger people and property and increase health impacts from air pollution.
Pictured below are key indicators of the region’s changing climate. Arrows show increasing or decreasing trends, based on empirical data and modeling. Source: TRPC, adapted from image in U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) 2014 National Climate Assessment
How it Comes Together
The Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan includes actions to help the region prepare for and adjust to climate impacts. This Mitigation Plan extends from that same science-based foundation, to address local contributions to the causes of climate change. Together, the two plans form a comprehensive Climate Action Plan for the Thurston Region.