Outreach, Classes, and Seminars

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" listserve home page. You can also subscribe to the newsletter by sending a blank email to the following address: climateupdate-subscribe@mailman.u.washington.edu.


The Pacific Northwest Climate CIGnal

Issue #11, Fall 2007

In this Issue

  1. Pacific Northwest climate outlook
  2. Pacific Northwest streamflow forecast updates
  3. Climate change adaptation guidebook released
  4. Columbia River basin data needs survey
  5. Idaho climate and water fall forecast meeting
  6. CIG in the news: Recent media stories
  7. New CIG publications

1. Pacific Northwest Climate Outlook

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported that U.S. and PNW temperatures (OR-WA-ID) for June-August 2007 were the 6th warmest on record since 1895. Looking forward, current observations and model forecasts suggest weak to moderate La Niña conditions through 2007, increasing the odds for wetter conditions in the PNW. Read more...

2. Pacific Northwest Streamflow Forecast Updates

West-wide Seasonal Hydrologic Forecasts Update (Columbia R., Snake R., and other western-U.S. rivers)

At the end of June, most of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) had below normal soil moisture and snowpack. Since then, most of the precipitation in the PNW has occurred in the western part of the basin. Coupled with outbreaks of above average temperatures in July, particularly to the east, climate conditions have caused the moisture deficits to persist, especially in the Snake River basin and parts of the basin's interior. The main exception is the Puget Sound region, where periodic rainfall has kept soil moistures within a normal range.

The westwide system's seasonal volume forecasts for summer 2008 begin on October 1, and are not available for this newsletter. Flow forecasts for next 6 months are now provided on the system's website. From the September 1 forecast, for example, the projections are 89% of normal for Columbia River at Dalles, and 79% of normal for the Snake River at Ice Harbor, WA, through February of 2008. The below normal conditions reflect the moisture deficits in the basin.

Graphical depictions of recent estimates of soil moisture, snow water equivalent, and streamflow can be found at the University of Washington's West-wide Seasonal Hydrologic Forecast System website. These experimental real-time forecasts are updated monthly and are based on several climate forecast methods. A number of products at the web-site are also updated on a daily basis. These include basin-averaged water balance conditions for each forecast point, spatial maps of current conditions, and a spatial summary of snow water equivalent for the western U.S.

A related effort that offers daily updates of hydrologic conditions throughout the U.S., can be found on the UW Experimental Surface Water Monitor website. The Surface Water Monitor shows daily updating estimates of hydrologic conditions throughout the U.S. The site also now offers weekly projections for soil moisture and runoff across the U.S., for lead times up to 3 months. The broader geographic analysis shows current dry conditions in parts of the PNW persisting for at least 3 months. Since the website's launch in April 2005, the Surface Water Monitor has increasingly become a data source used by U.S. Drought Monitor and Drought Outlook authors in the preparation of their operational products.

3. Climate Change Adaptation Guidebook Released

(Notice: If you downloaded an electronic copy of the guidebook prior to 9.28.07, please see the note at the end of this summary)

Public decision makers have a critical opportunity – and a need – to start preparing today for the impacts of climate change. Preparing for climate change is not a “one size fits all” process, however. Just as the impacts of climate change will vary from place to place, the combination of institutions and legal and political tools available to public decision-makers are unique from region to region. Preparedness actions will need to be tailored to the circumstances of different communities.

The Climate Impacts Group and King County, Washington, in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, are pleased to announce the release of Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments. The guidebook, released September 11, is designed to facilitate planning for climate impacts at the local level by specifying practical steps and strategies that can be used to build community resilience into the future. These steps include creating a climate change preparedness team; identifying community vulnerabilities to climate change; and identifying, selecting, and implementing adaptation options.

Questions addressed in the guidebook include the following:

An electronic copy of the guidebook is now available in PDF format. Hard copies will be available in late October. To order a hard copy of the guidebook, please email Lara Whitely Binder.

** A note for those who downloaded the PDF prior to September 28, 2007: An updated version of the guidebook PDF was posted to the CIG website on 9.28.07. The update was necessary to complete some edits to the document that were inadvertently left out in the final editing stages. This includes changes to the titles of the first two milestones and a correction to a checkpoint in Section 4.1.3. Please take a moment to download the updated version. Thank you.**

4. Columbia River Basin Data Needs Survey

The Climate Impacts Group, with support from the Washington Department of Ecology, the Oregon Department of Water Resources, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and the government of British Columbia, is seeking your input for the development of a comprehensive, up-to-date, and publicly available dataset of climate change hydrologic scenarios for the Columbia River basin.

The development of the datasets is part of an overall project to provide more detailed spatial information on the impacts of climate change on water resources in the Columbia River basin. The databases created by the CIG will be based on hydrologic simulations produced by the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) macro-scale hydrologic model, which will be implemented at a 1/16th degree (~12.5 sq. mi.) spatial resolution. This implementation scale will double the spatial resolution of the VIC models used in past studies, allowing for a more accurate representation of topographic features in the basin and better assessment of smaller watershed sensitivity to changes in climate. Once developed, the datasets will be available for free for use in water resource planning and policy formulation. For more information on the full scope of the project, please see the project scope (pdf).

Please take a few minutes to answer a series of 15 short questions about your data needs (survey). The survey should only take 10 minutes to complete. All answers will remain anonymous and results will be used in aggregate. We also encourage you to forward this survey on to others whose work covers the Columbia River Basin.

Thank you!

5. Idaho Climate and Water Fall Forecast Meeting and Other Meetings of Note

The CIG's Idaho Climate and Water Forecast Meeting for the 2008 Water Year will be held on October 17, 2007 in Boise, Idaho. Registration is required by Thursday, October 11. For more details on the meeting, or to register, please go to the meeting web site.

The Washington/Oregon Climate and Water Forecast Meeting will be held October 2, 2007 in Olympia, Washington. Registration for that meeting is now closed.

Other meetings of note:

U.S. Drought Monitor Forum  - October 10-11, 2007 in Portland, Oregon

Authors and users of the U.S. Drought Monitor will convene in Portland, Oregon, October 10-11, 2007 to discuss user needs and modifications to the tool. The U.S. Drought Monitor Forum is held every other year. This year's DM Forum is being sponsored by the NDMC, but is being hosted by the USDA-NRCS Water and Climate Center. Although the scope of the tool is national, the venue will provide an opportunity to focus on the drought-monitoring needs of the West. For more information on the meeting, please visit the U.S. Drought Monitor Forum meeting web site .

6. CIG in the News: Recent Media Stories

Recent media stories featuring CIG research and/or researchers include the following:

Additional news items are available at CIG in the News.

7. Recent CIG Publications

Recent CIG publications include the following:

For copies of these papers, please contact the CIG. A complete listing of CIG publications is available on the CSES publications page.

Posted Ocotber 1, 2007