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

City of Bellingham Climate Action Plan
State of Knowledge Report: Climate Change in Puget Sound - Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington (2015)