What is climate change?
According to the EPA, climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among others, that occur over several decades or longer. These changes, in turn, drive alterations to our water systems, our air, and to animal and plant life cycles.
Man-made climate change is due to the burning of fossil fuels resulting in an increased concentration of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and ozone.
Why is climate change data important?
Changes to our water, air, and biological systems pose increased risk to human health. For instance:
- In 2015, wildfires burned approximately 1.06 million acres in Washington State. This is the most area burned on record, and represents 2.5% of all land in the state.
- Many of the same areas of the state at risk for wildfire also have more days with stagnate air.
- Flood-prone areas are popular places to live. In 2000, about 357,510 people in Washington lived in areas at risk from flooding. By 2014, this number had climbed to 430,797.
Monitoring the indicators of climate change allows us to better prepare to protect public health in the face of a changing climate.
View the Data
For information or questions related to the Washington Tracking Network, email DOH.WTN@doh.wa.gov.
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