Outreach, Classes, and Seminars

A quarterly newsletter on Pacific Northwest climate, climate research, and impacts

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 #1, Winter 2005

In this Issue

  1. Monthly climate outlook for winter 2004-2005
  2. Experimental streamflow forecasts for the 2005 Water Year
  3. Climate change impacts on wildfire and conservation
  4. Experimental Oregon coastal coho marine survival forecast available
  5. Meeting announcement: Climate impacts on salmon management and recovery in Puget Sound, Georgia Basin, and coastal watersheds
  6. Meeting recap: The role of climate in salmon management and recovery in the Columbia River basin
  7. Web site spotlight: The new CIG web site

1. Monthly climate outlook for winter 2004-2005

Fall forecasts for a mild to moderate El Niño for the winter of 2004-2005 are unfolding as projected, increasing the odds for drier and/or warmer winter conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Snowpack is below average throughout the Northwest, especially in the Cascades where all basins reported 50% or less of normal snowpack as of January 25 (map; Seattle Times news coverage).

2. Experimental streamflow forecasts for the 2005 Water Year

Researchers at the UW Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the CIG have developed experimental monthly to seasonal hydrologic, streamflow, and reservoir system forecasts for the Columbia River basin and other western U.S river basins based on forecasted climate conditions. The CIG also provides an annual long-lead streamflow forecast each summer for the forthcoming water year.


Monthly Forecast. As of January 1, ensemble streamflow forecasts for the Columbia River basin at the Dalles continued to project somewhat normal to high January-May streamflow (due to expected warmer than average conditions), but lower June-August streamflow as a result of the mild El Niño that has developed.


Annual Long-lead Streamflow Forecast. The CIG provided a long-lead (annual) streamflow forecast for the Columbia River and Snake River basins for the 2005 water year in August 2004. The forecast assumed a mild to moderate El Niño and continuation of a warm phase PDO, both of which increase the potential for below normal streamflow in the Pacific Northwest.

3. Climate change impacts on wildfire and conservation

A recent study conducted by CIG-affiliated researchers examines the potential implications of climatic change on wildfire and conservation for the western United States . The study finds that even at the very low end of climate change projections, climate change is likely to lengthen the fire season and roughly double the total area burned in some regions by the end of the century.

4. Experimental Oregon coastal coho marine survival forecast available

Expectations for a continued weak tropical El Niño suggest relatively poor marine survival rates for coho due to return as spawning adults in 2005. The mean forecast return rate for Oregon coastal coho adults returning in fall 2005 is 1% (+/- 1%).

5. Meeting announcement: Climate impacts on salmon management and recovery in Puget Sound , Georgia Basin, and coastal watersheds

The CIG is hosting a one day meeting on February 2, 2005 to discuss climate impacts on salmon management and recovery in Puget Sound, Georgia Basin, and coastal watersheds. The purpose of the meeting is to bring resource managers and other interested parties together to explore how information on climate impacts can be used in seasonal to interannual salmon management activities as well as longer term recovery efforts. A similar meeting focusing on the Columbia River basin was held in September 2004 (see next update item).

6. Meeting recap: The role of climate in salmon management and recovery in the Columbia River basin

The CIG hosted a meeting on September 21, 2004 in Portland to discuss the role of climate in salmon management and recovery in the Columbia River basin . The meeting included presentations on climate impacts on Pacific Northwest climate, salmon and Columbia River streamflows; case studies examining the impacts of climate on Snake River chinook, and a panel discussion on climate and salmon recovery.

7. Web site spotlight: The new CIG web site

The CIG released a new web site in spring 2004 providing a more comprehensive overview of Pacific Northwest climate, current research at the CIG, climate forecasts and planning tools, and outreach activities. A section of the web site will be featured each quarter to help users get more familiar with the information available on the site.