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Final Report: OSTP/USGCRP Regional Workshop on the Impacts of Global Climate Change on the Pacific Northwest


Snover, A.K., Miles E.L., Henry, B.

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1998. Final Report for OSTP/USGCRP Regional Workshop on the Impacts of Global Climate Change on the Pacific Northwest
Seattle, WA, July 31, 1997

NOAA Climate and Global Change Program Special Report No. 11 (March 1998)


At the 1997 Pacific Northwest regional climate change assessment workshop, over 80 stakeholders from the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho discussed how climate change would impact the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Participants were drawn from the areas of academia, government (local, state, regional, and federal), business, community organizations, and native tribal organizations. Climate change would be manifested most directly in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) through changes to the region's hydrologic cycle, especially via impacts on wintertime temperature and precipitation. These impacts would resonate throughout all sectors of the region. Climate change in the PNW, as represented by the specific climate change scenario discussed in the workshop, implies increased competition and conflict over access to water supply in the region, directly impacting the already competing uses of hydropower production, fisheries protection, and irrigation water supply. The typical summertime drought stress would increase in PNW forests, making them more susceptible to disturbance; areal extent of productive forestland may decrease. Permanent inundation of coastal areas and increased coastal erosion are likely, resulting in increased loss of wetlands and shoreline habitat, and threats to property. Agricultural impacts are likely to be both positive and negative with the overall impact uncertain; major stress is likely to be limited irrigation water supply. Human health impacts are less certain, but likely would include increases in infectious (e.g., vector-borne) diseases and increases in water-borne illnesses.

A variety of adaptation/management response options are possible, including: improved watershed management, adaptive management, diversification in order to ensure future resiliency, and increased cooperation and information sharing. Areas for further research were identified in order to enable a more complete assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on the PNW. It is recommended that regional science assessments within the US should be linked to the IPCC quinquennial assessments, with a lag time of one year. Thus, as new global and regional information about probable climate changes and likely impacts becomes available, it can be fed into continuing regional assessments.

CIG Publication No. 107
JISAO Contribution No.

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