Climate Change in the Northwest

Climate Change in the Northwest

Implications for Our Landscapes, Waters, and Communities

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Edited by Meghan M. Dalton, Philip Mote, and Amy K. Snover

270 pages pages | 8 X 10

Climate Change in the Northwest: Implications for Our Landscapes, Waters, and Communities is aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about key climate impacts and consequences to various sectors and communities in the northwest United States. It draws on a wealth of peer-reviewed literature, earlier state-level assessment reports conducted for Washington (2009) and Oregon (2010), as well as a risk-framing workshop. As an assessment, it aims to be representative (though not exhaustive) of the key climate change issues as reflected in the growing body of Northwest climate change science, impacts, and adaptation literature now available.

This report will serve as an updated resource for scientists, stakeholders, decision makers, students, and community members interested in understanding and preparing for climate change impacts on Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This more detailed, foundational report is intended to support the key findings presented in the Northwest chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment. 

"[Climate Change in the Northwest] is a lucid, engaging precis of climate change science and impacts in the Pacific Northwest."

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Changing Northwest

1.1 Regional Introduction: The Physical, Ecological, and Social Template

1.1.1 Landscape and Climate

1.1.2 Ecosystems, Species, and Habitats

1.1.3 Population and Economy

Box 1.1 Assessing the Economic Impacts of Climate Change:

A Commentary and Challenge

1.1.4 Tribal Entities

1.1.5 A Region Shaped by Water

1.2 A Focus on Risk

1.3 Looking Toward the Future

1.3.1 Common Themes in a Changing Climate

1.3.2 Climate Change Adaptation in the Northwest

1.4 Conclusion


Chapter 2. Climate: Variability and Change in the Past and the Future

2.1 Understanding Global and Regional Climate Change

2.2 Past Changes in Northwest Climate: Means

2.3 Past Changes in Northwest Climate: Extremes

2.4 Projected Future Changes in the Northwest

2.4.1 Mean Temperature & Precipitation

2.4.2 Extreme Temperature & Precipitation


Chapter 3. Water Resources: Implications of Changes in Temperature and Precipitation

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Key Impacts

3.2.1 Snowpack, Stream Flow, and Reservoir Operations

3.2.2 Water Quality

3.3 Consequences for Specific Sectors

3.3.1 Irrigated Agriculture

3.3.2 Hydropower

3.3.3 Floodplain Infrastructure

3.3.4 Municipal Drinking Water Supplies

3.3.5 Freshwater Aquatic Ecosystems

Box 3.1 A Salmon Runs Through It

3.3.6 Recreation

3.4 Adaptation

3.5 Knowledge Gaps & Research Needs


Chapter 4. Coasts: Complex Changes Affecting the Northwest's Diverse Shorelines

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Sea Level Rise

4.2.1 Effects of Tectonic Motion and Other Local and Regional Factors

4.2.2 Combined Impacts of Sea Level Rise, Coastal Storms, and ENSO Events

4.3 Ocean Acidification

4.4 Ocean Temperature

4.5 Consequences for Coastal and Marine Natural Systems

4.5.1 Habitat Loss

4.5.2 Changes in Species? Ranges and Abundances

4.5.3 Altered Ecological Processes and Changes in the Marine Food Web

4.6 Consequences for Coastal Communities and the Built Environment

4.6.1 Coastal Transportation Infrastructure

4.6.2 Coastal Communities

Box 4.1 Coping with Sea Level Rise Risks Today & Tomorrow in Olympia, Washington

4.7 Economic Consequences of Coastal Impacts

4.7.1 Marine Fisheries

4.7.2 Other Economic Impacts

4.8 Adaptation

4.8.1 Nisqually Delta Case Study: Restoring Salmon and Wildlife Habitat in Puget Sound

4.8.2 Neskowin, Oregon, Case Study: Organizing to Cope with an Eroding Coastline

4.9 Knowledge Gaps & Research Needs


Chapter 5. Forests Ecosystems: Vegetation, Disturbance, and Economics

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Direct Climate Sensitivities: Changes in Distribution, Abundance, and Function of Plant Communities and Species

Box 5.1 Changes in Non-forest Systems: High-Elevation Habitats, Grasslands, and Shrublands

5.3 Indirect Effects of Climate Change through Forest Disturbances

5.3.1 Wildfires Climate Influence Past and Projected Future Fire Activity

5.3.2 Forest Insects Climate Influence Past and Projected Future Insect Outbreaks

5.3.3 Forest Diseases Climate Influence Past and Projected Future Disease Outbreaks

5.3.4 Disturbance Interactions and Cumulative Effects

5.4 Implications for Economics and Natural Systems

5.4.1 Economic Consequences Timber Market Effects Economic Effects of Disturbance Non-Timber Market Effects Valuing Ecosystem Services

5.4.2 Consequences for Natural Systems

5.5 Knowledge Gaps & Research Needs

5.6 Adaptive Capacity and Implications for Vulnerability


Chapter 6. Agriculture: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Environmental, Economic, and Social Importance

6.3 Vulnerabilities to Projected Climate Change

6.4 Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Selected Subsectors

6.4.1 Annual Crops Dryland Cereal Cropping Systems Irrigated Annual Cropping Systems

6.4.2 Perennial Crops Tree Fruit and Small Fruit Wine Grapes and Wines

6.4.3 Animal Production Systems Rangeland Pasture and Forage Dairy and Other Confined Animal Operations

6.4.4 Other Northwest Agriculture Subsectors

Box 6.1 Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agricultural Systems

6.5 Potential to Adapt to Changing Climates

6.6 Knowledge Gaps & Research Needs


Chapter 7. Human Health: Impacts and Adaptation

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Key Impacts of Climate Changes on Human Health

7.2.1 Temperature

7.2.2 Extreme Weather Events Storms and Flooding Drought Wildfires

7.2.3 Aerobiological Allergens and Air Pollution Aerobiological Allergens Air Pollution

7.2.4 Infectious Diseases Vector-Borne Diseases Water-Borne Diseases Fungal Diseases

7.2.5 Harmful Algal Blooms

7.2.6 Mental Health

7.2.7 Potential Health Costs

7.3 Northwest Adaptation Activities

7.4 Knowledge Gaps and Research Needs


Chapter 8. Northwest Tribes: Cultural Impacts and Adaptation Responses

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Tribal Culture and Sovereignty

8.3 Climatic Changes and Effects: Implications for Tribes in the Northwest

8.3.1 Water Resources and Availability

Box 8.1 Case Study: The Effect of Climate change on Baseflow Support in the Nooksack River Basin and Implications on Pacific Salmon Species Protection and Recovery

8.3.2 Water Temperature and Chemistry

8.3.3 Sea Level Rise

8.3.4 Forests and Wildfire

8.4 Tribal Initiatives in the Northwest

8.4.1 Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerability Assessments

8.4.2 Climate Change Adaptation Plans

8.4.3 Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Addressing Climate Change

8.4.4 Research and Education

8.4.5 Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

8.5 Tribal Research and Capacity Needs and Considerations for the Future

8.5.1 Tribal Research and Capacity Needs

8.5.2 Considerations for the Future


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"[Climate Change in the Northwest] is a lucid, engaging precis of climate change science and impacts in the Pacific Northwest."

270 pages pages | 8 X 10
publication year: 
2 013