Climate Change Impacts on the Bluffs, Aquifers, and Marine Ecosystems of Island County.

About the Class

10:00 - 11:00 AM Session 1
Speaker: Paul Belanger PhD

Humans have already impacted the erosion of our island bluffs, as well as our marine and forest ecosystems. The more of us there are the greater the impact. Historically we’ve tended to act to protect our personal interests without regard for the future or even one another. We’ve constructed jetties, groins, and protected our shores through hard armoring without understanding beach erosion processes and the impacts of those interventions. Likewise, concerning our aquifers, we’ve drilled and pumped our aquifers without adequate understanding of their recharge, especially as we’ve increased our population in Island County. In some cases, our aquifers have been contaminated with “forever” (PFAS) chemicals.

 Climate change is becoming alarmingly more impactful, increasing rates of bluff and beach erosion. Sea level rise, along with hotter and drier summers will strain aquifer resources potentially augmenting and expanding areas of saltwater intrusion that already exist in Island County.

Increased ocean temperature, ocean acidification and stormwater pollution-runoff are also having negative impacts on our associated marine ecosystems as well as on local tribal, commercial, and recreational fishing livelihoods.

 In this talk, we’ll unravel these processes and become wiser about the challenges we face and solutions that are possible.

Barnum Point on Camano
Strawberry Point Whidbey

Add-on Field trip: You, Me, and Nearshore Bluffs lead by PaulBen McElwain

Contact info: Paul Belanger


About the Speaker

Paul Belanger PhD

Paul Belanger is a retired geologist, micropaleontologist, and paleoclimatologist who’s studied the marine record of past climates, and was raised in Western MA.