UW News

November 14, 2023

5th National Climate Assessment authors include UW climate experts

University of Washington experts are among the authors of the newly released Fifth National Climate Assessment, an overview of climate trends, impacts and efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change across the nation. The assessment is produced roughly every four years, led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and mandated by Congress. The fifth edition, released Nov. 14, assesses current and future risks posed by climate change in 10 regions.


Three current UW scientists were among the authors of the assessment, which summarizes climate change that has already occurred, and that is projected in coming decades. This fifth edition includes two new chapters, on economics and on social systems and justice.

Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health and of environmental and occupational health sciences, was an author on the chapter on human health. Ebi also co-authored the human health chapter of the fourth assessment, released in 2019, and was a contributing author to the same chapter in 2014’s third assessment.

“It is indisputable that climate change is harming human health and well-being, from exposure to extreme weather and climate events, changes in the geographic range and seasonality of infectious diseases, alterations in air quality, reductions in food- and water-security, and impacts on mental wellness,” Ebi said. “Historically marginalized and under-resourced communities face greater harms and exacerbations of health inequities. Future health risks could be reduced, but not eliminated, by strengthening health systems, implementing effective adaptation measures, and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr. Jeremy Hess, a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, of global health and of emergency medicine, was an author on the air quality chapter. Hess was previously a lead author of the human health chapter in the third assessment.

“We have ample evidence that climate change is worsening air pollution — in part due to increasing wildfire smoke and pollen levels — and there are clear and worsening impacts on human health,” Hess said. “These impacts are felt most acutely in low-income communities and communities of color. But we also know that smart policies and coordinated action can simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and improve health for all, particularly the most impacted.”

Crystal Raymond, a research scientist at the Climate Impacts Group, was a co-author of the Northwest chapter. She also contributed to a cross-cutting section focused on Western wildfires, a new feature that centralizes critical information on key trends.

“The Fifth National Climate Assessment includes more information on response actions and emphasizes action at the state and local levels,” Raymond said. Since 2018, Raymond said, adaptation plans and actions at the city and state level have increased by about a third across the U.S.

Raymond also highlighted the increased focus on engagement in the assessment process, and special steps that have been taken to increase the accessibility of the assessment to wider audiences.

“The process included more opportunities for public engagement, and the fifth assessment includes some great new communication features — Spanish translation, a six-episode podcast series, 92 art pieces featured throughout the assessment and forthcoming regional webinars and workshops,” Raymond said.

Erica Asinas also co-authored the Northwest chapter while she was affiliated with the UW Climate Impacts Group. Asinas is now at the Urban Ocean Project in Brooklyn, New York.


For more information, contact Ebi at krisebi@uw.edu, Hess at jjhess@uw.edu and Raymond at clrfire@uw.edu.