The planet hit new highs in 2023 with its warmest year on record. Evidence suggests that Earth might not have been this warm in 100,000 years.

Temperatures have been going up for years due to climate change, but last year reached unprecedented levels with additional factors such as El Niño, the cyclical climate pattern that is often linked with record-setting heat worldwide.

The Pacific Northwest really started feeling the extreme heat in 2021 when the “heat dome” broke records and buckled roads. Washington State University assistant professor Deepti Singh studies extreme weather events and, in this issue, she assesses the impacts of 2021 and ongoing hot weather in the region.

As the temperatures climb, other WSU researchers seek ways to mitigate the effects on outdoor workers: people on farms, construction sites, and other places, who are especially susceptible to increased heat and wildfire smoke.

Michael Neff, a plant biologist and director of the new WSU Perennial Grass Breeding and Ecology Farm, and his team test grass hybrids that withstand higher temperatures and pounding feet to replace artificial turf.

WSU architecture assistant professor Omar Al-Hassawi is looking at updating ancient techniques that passively cool buildings. Veterinarian Katie Kuehl also recommends ways to keep our pets and animals safe in the heat.

There’s some heat that we don’t mind, though. The tangy heat of mustard can be pretty tasty, like Savage Chili Pepper by Zillah-based entrepreneur Tracy Savage (’91 Ag. Ed.).

We also want our sports teams to heat up at the right time. That’s exactly what has happened with WSU women’s and men’s basketball over the past few years. This spring, the men’s team went to the Big Dance for the first time since 2008, with a seven-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The women’s team had three NCAA Tournament appearances from 2021 to 2023, its first Pac-12 tournament championship last year, and a one-seed in this year’s inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament.

Sometimes we need to go to warmer, or at least new, places, which is why the WSU Alumni Association offers a wide range of fun travel packages. The WSUAA might be coming to your area, too; check out the new “WSU in” programs in this issue.