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" list serve 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 #17, Spring 2009

In this Issue

  1. Pacific Northwest Climate Outlook
  2. Pacific Northwest Streamflow Forecast Update
  3. The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment Conference and Draft Report
  4. Report on Climate Change Impacts to the Willamette Valley Now Available
  5. New Guides on Answering Common Climate Change Questions Available
  6. USBOR Report Examines the Impacts of Climate Change on Boise River Reservoir Operations
  7. Additional Adaptation Guidebook Copies Available
  8. Workshops, Conferences, and Other Events of Note
  9. Recent CIG Publications
  10. CIG in the News

1. Pacific Northwest Climate Outlook

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center May-June-July forecast is for a greater than 33% chance of above normal temperatures in eastern Oregon and southern Idaho, and a greater than 33% chance of below normal temperatures along the Oregon and Washington coasts (map) This forecast is a change from the cooler than normal conditions that enveloped the region in March-April. The precipitation forecast is for an even chance of below, equal to, and above normal precipitation along the PNW coast; and a greater than 33% chance of below normal precipitation in the remainder of the region, exceeding 40% in central and southern Idaho. Read more...

2. Pacific Northwest Streamflow Forecast Updates

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

Negative-to-neutral ENSO conditions have produced a relatively cold and wet winter in much of the PNW. This has been observed in many areas except the northwesternmost part of Washington State and southeast Oregon. Despite this, snowpack over PNW has been particularly variable with below normal values over the central part of the Columbia River basin in British Columbia, western Montana, Central Idaho and some portions of the Cascades. Soil moisture conditions (which are influenced by snowpack and precipitation) over the Columbia River basin have similar patterns of spatial variability as those for snowpack. Soil moisture shows low values concentrated over the eastern and central Oregon and parts of central Washington and southern British Columbia. All of these regions showed soil moisture percentiles below 30% for mid-April.

Soil moisture conditions and the trend toward ENSO-neutral conditions produce April to September streamflow forecasts that vary spatially from the latitudinal extremes of the Columbia River Basin. For example, April to September streamflows for the eastern Snake River basin are projected to be normal to below normal. The streamflow forecast for stations near the Oregon-Idaho border are predominantly below normal. On the other hand, the streamflow forecast for stations over the Washington-British Columbia-Idaho border is around normal. Above normal forecast streamflow values occur intermittently between Box Canyon station and the westernmost Columbia River stations, where above normal values in the latter stations are dominant. This includes The Dalles, where forecast streamflow values for April to September are 5% above of the normal streamflows for the peak flow in June (1960-1999).

About the Forecasts. 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 web site. These experimental real-time forecasts are updated twice monthly (1st and the 15th) 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 web site. The Surface Water Monitor shows daily updating estimates of hydrologic conditions throughout the U.S. The site also offers weekly projections for soil moisture and runoff across the U.S. for lead times up to 3 months.

3. The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment Conference and Draft Report

On February 12, 2009, more than 600 representatives from federal, state, tribal, county, and local governments, the non-profit sector, and private business came together to learn about the results of the first-ever Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment (WACCIA). The Assessment, released in draft on February 11, 2009, provides the latest information on how climate change may affect eight key sectors of the Washington environment and economy: agriculture, coasts, energy production and demand, forests, human health, salmon, urban stormwater infrastructure, and water resources. Key findings from the WACCIA include the following:

Presentations from the conference are available on the WACCIA conference website as Power Point files or as streaming audio files. We anticipate release of the final, copy-edited WACCIA report in June 2009.

The WACCIA was funded by the Washington State legislature in 2007. Support for the conference was generously provided by NOAA, the Bullitt Foundation, the Washington Department of Ecology, and King County, Washington.

4. Report on Climate Change Impacts to the Willamette Valley Now Available

The Oregon Climate Leadership Initiative, in partnership with the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, has released an assessment of climate change impacts on the Upper Willamette River basin. The study begins with a summary of projected changes in temperature, precipitation, snowpack, storms, flooding, wildfire, and vegetation changes for the basin. The impacts of these projected changes on natural and human systems are evaluated, and recommendations for preparing for the impacts of climate change provided. Key findings from the study include:

“Preparing for Climate Change in the Upper Willamette River Basin of Western Oregon: Co-Beneficial Planning for Communities and Ecosystems” is available for download from the Oregon Climate Leadership Initiative. A similar study was produced for the Rogue River basin in December 2008.

5. New Guides on Answering Common Climate Change Questions Available

Two new documents aimed at helping public understanding of climate change are now available.

Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science. NOAA has released a new 13-page guide on climate literacy that defines important terms and concepts used when talking about climate and approaches to adaptation and mitigation. The guide is described by Tom Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, as “a first step for people who want to know more about the essential principles of our climate system, how to better discern scientifically credible information about climate, and how to identify problems related to understanding climate and climate change." The guide was compiled by an interagency group led by NOAA and is a product of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

Setting the Record Straight: Responses to Common Challenges to Climate Science. This 9-page document, prepared by the Oregon Climate Leadership in partnership with the Climate Impacts Group and the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences, aims to provide scientifically credible responses to some of the most commonly heard challenges to the reality, causes, and trajectory of human-induced climate change.

6. Bureau of Reclamation Report Examines the Impacts of Climate Change on Boise River Reservoir Operations

The Effects of Climate Change on the Operation of Boise River Reservoirs, Initial Assessment Report, released by The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in November 2008, provides an initial assessment of the effects of climate change on the management of reservoirs in the Boise River Basin in southwest Idaho. The analysis examined two central issues: 1) how climate change may affect water supply, reservoir refill, water deliveries, water rights distribution, and minimum streamflows; and 2) the adequacy of existing flood control regulations and practices in light of climate change. Winter (Jan-March) flooding on the Boise River is projected to be the most significant climate change impact on the Boise River. The report notes that “existing flood control regulations, which were developed from observed inflows spanning 1895 to 1980, are not adequate to manage the spring runoff resulting from climate change, the majority of which will arrive up to two weeks earlier than anticipated.”

7. Additional Adaptation Guidebook Copies Available

The Climate Impacts Group is pleased to announce the availability of more hard copies of the CIG/King County adaptation guidebook Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments. Since its release in September 2007, more than 2000 copies of the guidebook have been distributed in hard copy or electronically to locations around the world, including Croatia, England, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and Namibia.

To request a hard copy of the guidebook, please email the CIG. The guidebook can also be download electronically by individual chapters or in its entirety from the guidebook website. The CIG would like to thank the Bullitt Foundation for providing the funds for a second run of the guidebook.

8. Workshops, Conferences, and Other Meetings of Note

Documentary on Ocean Acidification Coming to Seattle

A full-length film documentary on ocean acidification (“A Sea Change”) will be screened on June 1st and 2nd at the 35th Annual Seattle International Film Festival. The documentary features CIG Director Ed Miles, among others. Film producers Barbara Ettinger and Sven Huseby will stay after the screenings for a panel discussion on the film. Show times are Monday, June 1, 7:00 pm at the Egyptian Theatre and Tuesday, June 2, 4:00 pm at the Kirkland Performance Center. (Watch trailer)

Conference/Workshop Announcements:

For more information on these events, please visit the event's website.

9. 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.

10. CIG in the News

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

Radio feature:
Seattle's KUOW (94.9 FM), Weekday (February 11, 2009) - CIG researchers Philip Mote and Marketa McGuire Elsner, along with Jay Manning, the director of Washington State's Department of the Ecology, discuss the results of the Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment Report. (Listen to the program, length: 60 minutes)

Additional news items are available at CIG in the News.

Posted April 30, 2009