News

NW Climate Conference returns to Portland for 10th year
Author: Cristina Rojas, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: March 4, 2019

The Northwest Climate Conference is returning to Portland this fall for its 10th year — and Portland State University researchers will play a big role.

The conference brings together more than 350 researchers, resource managers, policymakers and decisionmakers from academia, public agencies, tribal communities, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Attendees share the latest knowledge, ideas and best practices related to climate change science, impacts and adaptation in the Pacific Northwest.

WHAT: 10th annual Northwest Climate Conference

WHEN: Oct. 8-10, 2019

WHERE: Sentinel Hotel

Registration and abstract submissions open in April.

For more information, visit nwclimateconference.org.

The conference has grown considerably since its inaugural event in Portland a decade ago, in much the same way that interest in climate as a topic has grown.

"The public attention and concern about climate change are greater now than it was 10 years ago," said conference chair Paul Loikith, who is an assistant professor in the Geography Department and director of PSU's Climate Science Lab. "Some of the impacts of climate change are emerging from the noise and people are noticing. There's more attention on what climate scientists regionally are telling us and more pressure for policymakers to take action."

That's why a conference that brings together researchers and practitioners is so important, he says.

"This is a unique opportunity for scientists and those who are able to take action to directly meet, learn from each other, present their perspectives on what they're doing, have the opportunity to ask questions, and network," Loikith said. "That's not something that's traditionally been a major part of the research or practitioner communities, but it's absolutely necessary."

Vivek Shandas, an associate professor of urban studies and planning and research director for PSU's Institute for Sustainable Solutions, says that public agency employees are often looking to researchers for risk-aversion strategies.

"They're asking very direct questions about how we manage in this changing climate, what do we see as trends emerging, and how do we go back to our staff and figure out what to do about it," he said.

Loikith, an ISS faculty fellow, says the conference is an opportunity to raise the profile of the climate-related research that's going on at PSU, much of which has been supported by ISS through its partnerships with city agencies and community organizations.

"ISS has created a whole ecosystem to support applied research and community-engaged work," Shandas said.

During last year's conference, ISS faculty and student fellows presented on projects that ranged from the impact of climate change on water quality and quantity in the Clackamas River Watershed to helping the city of Portland plan for potential sewage overflow events by better understanding incidents of intense and heavy rainfall at the local level, and urban heat islands and how new developments can be more responsive to local climate effects.

Loikith expects that PSU faculty and students — and ISS — will be even better represented at this year's conference. Event registration and abstract submissions will open in April.