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Report: How climate change will affect Oregon

Ecotrope | Nov. 30, 2010 7:33 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:44 p.m.

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A new report details the newest science on what Oregon can expect to see as the global climage changes, from higher ocean temperatures and coastal flood risks to species distribution, wildfire and water shortages.

A new report details the newest science on what Oregon can expect to see as the global climage changes, from higher ocean temperatures and coastal flood risks to species distribution, wildfire and water shortages.

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute has just released a long-awaited, 400-page report on the impacts of climate change on the state. We’re wading through the report here at OPB, but a news release and an executive summary highlight these 10 findings:

  1. Average temperatures are projected to increase by .2 to 1 degree Fahrenheit every decade for the rest of the century.
  2. By 2050, snowpack is expected to be less than half of what it was last century, with lower elevations seeing the most dramatic reductions (this cuts into the state’s natural water storage system, leaving less water runoff in the summer, and yes, this will have an impact on ski resorts, researchers say).
  3. Average summer precipitation will drop 14 percent by 2080, further reducing summer streamflows, increasing stream temperatures and adding stress to cold-water fish such as salmon.
  4. In the Willamette sub-basin where the population is growing – the Tualatin, Clackamas and Molalla rivers will be more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
  5. Higher ocean temperatures and acidification will result in more low-oxygen dead zones (which kill crab and other critters), more harmful algal blooms (which lead to poisonous shellfish), more invasive species and hard times for shellfish (whose shells can’t grow in corrosive, acidic water).
  6. More intense storms, higher waves and sea level rise mean a higher risk of flooding and infrastructure damage on the coast (think sewer treatment systems, water supplies and Highway 101). By 2050, the global rate of sea level rise will begin to surpass the rate at which land is rising on the Oregon Coast.
  7. Irrigation demands will likely increase by 10 percent, though some crops may see longer, more productive growing seasons (frost-free days in wine country have already increased). Researchers say they’re missing information on the economic impacts of climate change for the state.
  8. Wildfire will likely increase in all forest types, and fires in western Oregon forests will be more likely.
  9. Many plant and animal species on land, in freshwater and at sea will shift, and have shifted in distribution and abundance (insects are already moving northward into southern Oregon, frogs are reproducing earlier in the year and birds are shifting northward and migrating earlier. Humboldt squid have moved north in the ocean, as well).
  10. The key drivers of greenhouse gas emissions are population, consumption and the emission intensity of the economy (such as how much carbon dioxide is produced per unit of economic output).

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