The Pacific Northwest Climate CIGnal
The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) issues a quarterly electronic newsletter designed to provide updates on regional climate and climate-related research, meetings, and topics of interest to Pacific Northwest (PNW) decision makers and resource managers. The first newsletter was distributed in January 2005.
To subscribe to the newsletter, please visit the CIG's "climateupdate" list serve home page. You can also subscribe to the newsletter by sending a blank email to the following address: email@example.com.
The Pacific Northwest Climate CIGnal
Issue #29, Spring 2012
In this Issue
- Climate Outlook
- Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Released for Washington State
- Washington State Convenes Panel to Address Ocean Acidification
- The 3rd Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference
- Washington, Oregon Rank High in NRDC Assessment of State Efforts to Prepare for Climate Change Impacts on Water
- New Reports and Papers on Climate Extremes
- New noteworthy climate change adaptation papers, reports and webinars
- CIG Publications
- CIG in the News
As we transition to the spring and summer months, what can we expect for the Pacific Northwest? With ENSO conditions becoming neutral this spring, there is not much signal for the seasonal forecast. Read more on the outlook for the Pacific Northwest...
Washington State has released a comprehensive strategy for adapting to the impacts of climate change. Preparing for a Changing Climate: Washington State's Integrated Climate Change Response Strategy represents the culmination of a two year effort that brought policy, management, and scientific expertise together to develop recommendations for preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The Strategy identifies seven high-priority, overarching response strategies for Washington State:
- Protect people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts by increasing state and local public health capacity to monitor, detect, plan, and respond to emerging threats and climate-related emergencies.
- Reduce risk of damage to buildings, transportation systems, and other infrastructure by identifying vulnerable areas and taking proactive steps to reduce risks to infrastructure while enhancing capacity to prepare for more frequent and severe flooding, rising sea levels, wildfires, and changes in energy supply and demand.
- Reduce risks to ocean and coastlines by helping communities prepare for sea level rise and increasing storm surge. This includes preventing habitat degradation, creating opportunities for upland habitat migration, and reducing vulnerability of shellfish to impacts from ocean acidification.
- Improve water management by promoting integrated approaches that consider future water supply and address competing water demands for irrigated crops, fish, municipal and domestic water needs, and energy generation.
- Reduce forest and agriculture vulnerability by enhancing surveillance of pests and disease, promoting use of species that are resilient to changing climate conditions, conserving productive and adaptive forest and farmland, and reducing forest and wildland fire risk in vulnerable areas.
- Safeguard fish, wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems by improving the ability of wildlife to migrate to more suitable habitat as the climate shifts, protecting and restoring habitat, and reducing existing stresses from development, pollution, unsustainable harvest, and other factors.
- Support the efforts of local communities and strengthen capacity to respond and engage the public. This includes identifying existing and new funding mechanisms to support adaptation work at the local level, ensuring a coordinated and integrated approach among levels of government and society, supporting research and monitoring, and ensuring scientific information is accessible and responds to needs of decision-makers.
More detailed recommendations for each of these over-arching strategies is included in the report.
The State Strategy was prepared by the Department of Ecology in collaboration with the state departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Fish and Wildlife, Health, Natural Resources, and Transportation. The Strategy bases much of its findings on the Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment, completed by the CIG in 2009, in addition to other studies. CIG staff served on several of the topic advisory groups as technical experts.
State agencies are now working on a variety of activities related to the Strategy. This includes the following:
- The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is initiating an agency-specific adaptation planning process to develop an adaptation plan for DNR that reflects the overarching objectives of the state strategy;
- The Department of Fish and Wildlife is focusing outreach and education of its staff;
- The Department of Transportation is preparing to implement recommendations from its recent climate change vulnerability assessment (reported previously in the Climate CIGnal); and
- The Department of Ecology is focusing on communications (internal and external), continued development of guidance to local government on sea level rise, and producing maps identifying hazard areas along the coast.
No legislation or requests for funding specifically related to the Strategy is anticipated at this time.
Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has convened a first-of-its-kind Blue Ribbon Panel to develop recommendations for addressing the problem of ocean acidification in Puget Sound and Washington's outer coast. The Panel, which meets between March and September 2012, is charged with the following:
- Review and summarize the current state of scientific knowledge of ocean acidification pertinent to Washington state, including anticipated consequences on shellfish and other marine species;
- Identify priority research and monitoring needs in Washington to increase our scientific understanding and strengthen the linkage between science and management actions;
- Develop recommendations for actions to respond to increasing ocean acidification and reduce the harmful effects on Washington's shellfish industry and other marine resources;
- Identify opportunities to improve coordination, strengthen existing partnerships, and develop new partnerships across jurisdictional boundaries with governments, universities, non-profit organizations, and private businesses; and
- Work to enhance public awareness and understanding of ocean acidification and how to address it.
The Panel is comprised of scientific experts, public opinion leaders; state, federal, tribal, and local policy makers; and industry representatives. William D. Ruckelshaus and Jay Manning are co-chairing the Panel. The Climate Impacts Group is facilitating the process in coordination with the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Sea Grant.
The Panel's recommendations will be delivered to Governor Gregoire on October 1, 2012. The final report will also be shared with NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. All meetings are open to the public.
For more information on the Panel, including a list of Panel members, and ocean acidification in Washington, visit the Department of Ecology's Ocean Acidification web page.
Related media coverage:
- Governor Gregoire's press release (March 29, 2012)
- "Ocean acid will be studied by blue-ribbon panel", The Chinook Observer, April 3, 2012
- "Acidity in ocean killed NW oysters, new study says", Seattle Times, April 12, 2012
The 3rd Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference will be held in Boise, Idaho on October 1–2, 2012. This conference gives scientists, natural resource managers, policy makers, and others an opportunity to exchange of information about emerging climate, climate impacts, and climate adaptation science in the Pacific Northwest.
Call for Special Sessions
The Conference Committee is currently accepting proposals for Special Sessions. The Committee invites proposals on various themes related to climate change and climate impacts research focused on the Pacific Northwest, including (but not limited to):
- Agriculture and Climate,
- Landscape Conservation Cooperatives,
- Adaptation and Mitigation activities,
- Climate Change Communication,
- Hydrologic Impacts,
- Human Health and Climate Change, and
- Regional Research Collaborations
To submit a proposal for a Special Session, please fill out the Special Sessions submission form. The deadline for Special Session proposals is 15 May 2012.
Call for Papers and Registration
Future announcements in June 2012 will provide information about the Call for Abstracts for the conference, plus details on registration for the meeting.
5. Washington, Oregon Rank High in NRDC Assessment of State Efforts to Prepare for Climate Change Impacts on Water
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently conducted an analysis of each state's level of readiness to contend with the impacts of climate change on water resources. The ensuing report, released in April of this year, ranks all 50 states based on their climate preparedness planning. Washington State and Oregon were among the small group of states considered to be leading the way in preparing for the impacts of climate change on water resources.
Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning underscores how engaged the states' governments are in anticipating and planning for the water-related impacts of climate change projected for their region. The impacts range from rising severity and intensity of storm events and shifts in precipitation to increased flooding and sea level rise. Through an interactive map, the NRDC has compiled the risks for each state and the initiatives taken to contend with the impacts.
Several recent studies have focused on the changing frequency and intensity of extreme climate events. The papers highlighted here are an indication of this subject's rising significance and range from global to regional in scope.
IPCC's Special Report on Climate Extremes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a special report, entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. This report examines the nexus of extreme climate events with exposed, vulnerable human and natural systems. It puts the physical aspects of weather and climate crises into the context of social dimensions, and presents opportunities for managing the risk factors. Many key findings are reported in the IPCC report, including the following:
- It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures at the global scale;
- There is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation at the global scale;
- It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme coastal high water due to an increase in mean sea level; and
- Attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change is challenging.
A Decade of Weather Extremes. A recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that certain types of extremes and their increased frequency are associated with human influence on the climate. Authors Dim Coumou and Stefan Rahmstorf found connections to increases in heat waves and heavy precipitation events. Linkages among other extremes were more tenuous.
For more information, see: Cuomou D. and Rahmstorf S. (2012) A decade of weather extremes. Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate1452
Projected changes in winter extreme for the western U.S. A recent article published in Geophysical Research Letters describes research investigating the projections of both mean and extreme precipitation for the western U.S. The researchers applied data from global climate models to regional models, resulting in statistically significant increases in the intensity of future extreme winter precipitation events over the western US. The ensemble of regional models indicates that the 20-year precipitation event will increase by 12.6% and the 50-year event will rise by 14.4%. In terms of average precipitation, the models demonstrate a decrease in winter precipitation over the southwestern U.S., and less statistically robust results for the interior West.
For more information, see: Source: Dominguez et al., 2012, Changes in winter precipitation extremes for the western United States under a warmer climate as simulated by regional climate models. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39, L05803, 7 PP. doi: 10.1029/2011GL050762
A new paper published in Science magazine this month provides updated information on observed trends in the rate of flow of Greenland's 200+ outlet glaciers and discusses implications for Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise projections for the 21st century. The study finds significant spatial and temporal variation in the rate of flow from Greenland's outlet glaciers over the last decade. This variability, combined with observed changes between 2000 and 2010, suggests that Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise will not be as significant as some scenarios have suggested.
Related media coverage can be accessed from this link.
The paper is available here.
NWF Synthesis Reports on Climate Impacts to Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems. The National Wildlife Federation has released two comprehensive draft reports on climate change impacts to marine and freshwater ecosystems in the domain of the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC). The NPLCC spans the coastal region from Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to Bodega Bay in northern California, comprising about 38,200 miles of coastline and freshwater confluences, and providing key habitat for such regionally renowned species as salmon, orca, shellfish and shorebirds.
Each report highlights the climate-induced changes we can expect for freshwater ecosystems and for marine and coastal ecosystems based on hundreds of recent studies from the region. The reports provide unprecedented compilations of the most up-to-date science, impacts to respective species' habitats and adaptation approaches. A similar report underscoring the responses of terrestrial systems to climate change will be developed in fall 2012. All three reports will be finalized in December 2012.
Guidebook for Developing Adaptation Options for National Forests. The U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station has released a guidebook presenting the science-based principles, processes and tools required to develop adaptation measures for national forest lands. Broadly speaking, the framework applied for any given national forest involves the following:
- Understand how local resources and conditions will respond to projected climate changes.
- Determine the sensitivity of specific natural resources.
- Develop and implement strategic options for adapting to the anticipated outcomes for impacted resources.
- Monitor the plan's effectiveness and adjust the management plans accordingly.
Recent case studies of adaptation plans implemented in other national forests provide useful tools, as well as a network of information to guide future management strategies.
For more information, see: Peterson, David L.; Millar, Connie I.; Joyce, Linda A.; Furniss, Michael J.; Halofsky, Jessica E.; Neilson, Ronald P.; Morelli, Toni Lyn. 2011. Responding to climate change in national forests: a guidebook for developing adaptation options. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-855. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 109 pp.
Modeling Sea Level Rise Impacts on Storm Surges Along U.S. Coasts. A new study published in Environmental Research Letters finds substantial changes in the projected frequency of extreme sea level events by today's standards. By mid-21st century, some locations may undergo what is currently classified as a 100-year high water level event on an annual basis. Most stations included in this study can anticipate a higher frequency of storm-related water levels in the future.
For more information, see: Modeling Sea Level Rise Impacts on Storm Surges Along U.S. Coasts, Claudia Tebaldi et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 014032.
- Lutz, Eric R.; Hamlet, Alan F.; Littell, Jeremy S. (2012) Paleoreconstruction of cool season precipitation and warm season streamflow in the Pacific Northwest with applications to climate change assessments. Water Resour. Res., Vol. 48, No. 1, W01525.
- Wettstein, JJ, JS Littell, JM Wallace, Z Gedalof. (2011) Coherent Region-, Specie-, and Frequency-Dependent Local Climate Signals in Northern Hemisphere Tree-Ring Widths. Journal of Climate, Vol. 24, No. 23, December 2011: 5998-6012.
- Youth spend day in court fighting for climate change protection - San Juan Islander, 17 February 2012
- Rising temps in Northwest may impact hydro, California – OPB News, 2 March 2012
- Study: 17,500 NW homes may sink under rising seas - KPLU, March 16, 2012
Posted May 09, 2012