Preparing for Climate Change

While we continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare our community for climate change impacts that are here now and anticipated to worsen in the future. The most significant changes projected for the Pacific Northwest due to climate change include the following: 

  • Sea Level Rise – increase in sea level
  • Temperature – increase in average and minimum temperatures, and the frequency and duration of extreme heat events
  • Precipitation – wetter winters, drier summers, and more extreme precipitation events
  • Wildfires - increased risk of wildfires and wildfire smoke exposure
  • Mountain Snowpack – less snowpack and shifts in the timing of stream flow

According to the 2019 Sea Level Rise Assessment (PDF) for Bainbridge Island, the most likely projections from the best available science indicate that relative to the year 2000, Bainbridge Island will experience one foot of sea level rise by the year 2060.

Extreme heat events are also a key concern for our community. In June and August 2021, the City opened the Senior Community Center as a cooling center for the first time ever in response to excessive heat warnings. Air conditioning and water were available for visitors, and BI Ride and Island Volunteer Caregivers provided rides to the Center as needed. 

Wildfires typically occur during the warmer, drier summer months. Over 674,000 acres were burned by wildfires in Washington in 2021. Climate researchers predict that number will continue to rise as warmer winters reduce mountain snowpack, and hotter summers dry foliage more quickly, setting the stage for wildfire. 

Wildfire smoke can impact our local air quality and cause serious health problems, especially for children, the elderly, and people with sensitive immune systems. Plan ahead for wildfire smoke: make a filter fan to filter out the small particles that are common in wildfire or wood smoke. Check out this guide from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to make your own air filter at home with a box fan and a furnace filter. 

In September 2021, Council allocated over $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for Climate Action Plan-related activities, including $250,000 to install solar panels and storage batteries at a limited number of emergency hubs across the island. City staff is currently evaluating sites for potential solar installations, and discussing next steps for coastal adaptation planning.