Environmental Program

Climate Change

How is the climate changing in our region, and what will it mean for us?

The Port Gamble S’Klallam recently completed a detailed climate change impact assessment. The full report is available for download here. These were some of our key findings:

Warmer temperatures

Warmer Temperatures

By the 2050s, temperatures in Washington State are projected to be about 6°F warmer on average compared to the 1950-1999 period. We expect to have more heat waves in the summer.

Rain and drought

Rain & Drought

We expect to experience more heavy rains, wetter winters, and drier summers. We are likely to have more droughts like the one we experienced in 2015.

Shrinking glaciers

Glaciers, Streams & Rivers

Glaciers in the Olympic Mountains lost 34% of their area between 1980 and 2009. The snow in the Olympics and Cascades is melting earlier in the year. We expect to see heavier winter stream flows and lower summer flows.

More wildfires

Wildfires

We may see more wildfires than we are used to seeing in Western Washington, which can reduce air quality and damage important habitats for animals like elk and bear.

Sea level rise

Sea Level Rise & Bluff Erosion

The sea level has already risen by about 8 inches over the last century. It could be 4.6 feet higher in 2100 compared to 2000—or even higher. The rising sea level will cause flooding in places like the Point Julia salt marsh and boat launches, and it may also increase bluff erosion. Fortunately, most of our facilities and houses are out of harm’s way.

Impacts on salmon

Impacts on Salmon

Lower streamflows and warmer water temperatures will stress salmon and hinder migration. Coho and stream Chinook will likely be more vulnerable to climate change impacts than chum and pinks.

Shellfish impacts

Impacts on Shellfish

Shellfish habitat is being degraded by sea level rise, and ocean acidification (ocean pH drops as excess CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed) is making it harder for shellfish to form their shells.

Health impacts

Impacts on Health

Intense heat waves, respiratory problems, allergens, and cases of shellfish poisoning may become more common. We need to be ready, so we can keep our community members healthy.

Cultural impacts

Impacts on Cultural Resources

Climate change could affect the availability of traditional foods, gathering materials, and other resources that we use for our ceremonies and customs.


What can we do to be ready for climate change?

Climate resilience By looking ahead and taking steps to increase our resilience in the face of these changes, we can protect our traditions, our community, and our resources for many generations to come.

For example, we can:

  • Continue working to restore salmon habitats.
  • Consider sea level rise and bluff erosion when planning new projects and choosing locations for new houses.
  • Maintain the self-reliance and community cohesion that makes us strong.

We will be doing further climate adaptation planning work in 2017 and 2018. For more information or to get involved, please email Sam Phillips.

“The science is here in front of us. We all need to be educated and try to figure out solutions. We have to protect the resources for the next generations.”

~Chairman Jeromy Sullivan


Resources