Oregon’s 11-member Global Warming Commission posted this video segment on its website along with a list of the climate-change evidence scientists are seeing now in the Pacific Northwest and what they expect to see in the next 10 to 50 years. Climate change could bring more droughts and floods, beach erosion, hotter, drier summers with increasing need for a decreasing water supply, more forest fires and pests and rising sea levels.
Among the evidence:
- Higher temperatures: “The amount of warming occurring in the Pacific Northwest – about 1.5° F since 1920 – is consistent with what scientists would expect from the growth of global greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. … Scientists expect average temperatures in the Pacific Northwest will continue to rise in response to global climate change, by at least 1.5° F and as much as 2.7° F by 2030 and 5.4° F by 2050. These projected increases are likely to result in longer growing and fire seasons (and more fuel for fires), earlier animal and plant breeding, a longer and more intense allergy season and broad ecosystem disruption.”
- Less snow pack: “Declines in spring snow pack in the Cascades have been observed, especially at low elevations, and the rise in greenhouse gases by itself probably has reduced spring snow pack by roughly 20%. Winter snows are melting earlier, especially at low-to-middle elevations. This has increased the risk of spring flooding, while reducing summer stream flows when fish and farmers both depend on those streams for water”
- Sea level rise: “Land on the central and northern Oregon coast (from Florence to Astoria) is being affected by both subsiding coastal lands and rising sea levels, up about an inch every 15 years (sea level rises are offset in other areas by geologically-driven elevation gains of shorelines). This puts both low-lying communities and seashore ecosystems at risk. … Sea levels will continue to rise. Higher levels could combine with stronger storms to accelerate coastal erosion, threatening communities and infrastructure such as Highway 101. Sea water intrusions may disrupt coastal wetland ecosystems”
- Changing precipitation: “Precipitation changes are very uncertain, but most precipitation will continue to arrive in the winter. Lower summer precipitation and earlier peak stream flow will mean less water available for summer use, the risk of higher and more intense flooding, and decreased water quality due to higher temperatures, pollutant concentration, and increased salinity in coastal areas.”