Category Archives: Variability, Weather, & Extreme Events

Including climate in your reforestation decision making

By: Holly R. Prendeville, Coordinator for the USDA Northwest Climate Hub

Tree mortality due to flathead woodborer in southwest Oregon, photo take in June 2016. Photo by Bob Schroeter of the USFS

Weather in the Northwest has gotten more variable. We have recently experienced drought for two years followed by flooding in 2017. The 2015 drought coincides with future climate projections for the Northwest: warmer temperatures leading to lower and earlier melting of snowpacks. Though trees are locally adapted to climate and can tolerate moderate changes, rapid and large changes in climate may be beyond the capacity of some species. As we saw in 2015, longer and drier growing seasons affect tree regeneration, growth, and mortality. This poses challenges for foresters, which Chris Schnepf discussed in a recent article.

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When you get into specifics, there can be good news about climate change

By: Doug Finkelnburg

“This is the first good news I’ve heard about climate change” was among the feedback received after delivering a talk about changes expected for Pacific Northwest’s agriculture. The audience was primarily ranchers attending the Northwest Grazing Conference in Pendleton, Oregon this past May. Scheduling conflicts prevented the talk’s author, Chad Kruger, director of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources from attending, and with some trepidation I agreed to present the topic on his behalf.

For many Americans, climate change is at best an abstract challenge, seemingly serious but without immediately obvious specific threats to one’s life and business. To the skeptic, it is a political football and a dark conspiracy, some nefarious excuse dreamed up to gain economic and political advantage for one interest group over another. With this in mind I attempted to summarize and translate the results of Northwest-focused climate research to an audience I expected viewed the topic at large with some level of hostility.

Wheat production in the Northwest, where the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and shifts in precipitation cycles are expected to deliver a “boost” to productivity of forages and small grains. Photo: Dennis Behm, under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Adapting to Climate Change: How Forestry and Cropping Systems Differ

By Chris Schnepf

“Family forest owners own a large portion of forests in many PNW regions” (Photo – C. Schnepf)

Many westerners presume any forest they drive by is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. But nationally the largest portion of forests are owned privately. Even in the West, key regions have a very high percentage of private forests. For example, over half of the forests in the Idaho Panhandle are private.

Some people debate whether forestry should be considered part of agriculture. Like farmers, forest owners and managers are discerning how to adapt their management to a changing climate. But forestry in North America starts from a different point than most cropping systems. Continue reading

Irrigation Efficiency Series (Part 1 of 2): Is efficiency the answer to managing water shortages?

By John Stevenson

After a particularly wet winter and spring and an above-average snowpack, it’s easy to put the past behind us and forget the several years of drought our region recently experienced.  But drought happens, as they say, and will certainly happen again.  So it is worth reflecting on how irrigators will better cope when drought returns. Across the West, irrigation efficiency has gained attention in this context, as a way to stretch the number of days that irrigation water is available when drought hits.

Furrow irrigation, traditionally used in the Northwest, and one of the targets for improving irrigation efficiency. Photo by Flickr user Hanna 3232, under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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NW Climate Conference call for abstracts now open!

Tacoma Convention Center, Photo by HighSierraProductions.com

Call for Abstracts now open!

The Eighth Annual Northwest Climate Conference
Working Together to Build a Resilient Northwest

October 10-11, 2017
Tacoma Convention Center | Tacoma, WA
http://pnwclimateconference.org/

We are pleased to announce the call for abstracts for the 8th Annual Northwest Climate Conference – Working Together to Build a Resilient Northwest. We invite you and your colleagues to submit abstracts for special sessions, oral presentations, and posters. The due date for abstracts is Monday, June 12, 2017. Continue reading

Could the Northwest become an increasingly important dairy-producing region as climate change unfolds?

By Liz Allen

Dairy cows of Tillamook County, Oregon. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, CC BY NC 2.0.

In a previous article I explored how climate change in California’s wine country—coupled with shifting temperature and precipitation patterns in Oregon and Washington—may catalyze new opportunities for winegrape production in the Northwest. I also suggested that these opportunities might be accompanied by an increase in locally produced cheeses due to growth in the region’s dairy industry. In this article, I’ll discuss research indicating that during the 21st century, climate change impacts could lead to more favorable conditions for milk production in the Northwest relative to other current dairy centers of the U.S. In 2016, Idaho, Washington and Oregon produced roughly 11% of the nation’s milk. It is conceivable that this percentage could increase substantially in coming decades. Continue reading

2017 Northwest Climate Conference in Tacoma – Oct 10-11, 2017

WA Dept of Ecology oblique shoreline photo archive, photo ID number 000924_114848, courtesy of Snohomish County.

Join us in Tacoma this October for the 8th Annual Northwest Climate Conference! The Northwest Climate Conference annually brings together more than 300 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.  

The conference is the region’s premier opportunity for a cross-disciplinary exchange of knowledge and ideas about regional climate, climate impacts, and climate adaptation science and practice. The conference also provides a forum for presenting emerging policy and management goals, objectives, and information needs related to regional climate impacts and adaptation. Participants include policy- and decision-makers, resource managers, and scientists from academia; federal, state, and local agencies; sovereign tribal nations; non-governmental organizations; and the private sector.

Details regarding abstract submission, registration, and other program news will be added to the conference website in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please contact Lara Whitely Binder (lwb123@uw.edu) with any questions or for information on sponsorship opportunities.

 

Spring is Coming! Reflections on Growing the AgClimate Network

By: Brooke Saari

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow” ~ Proverb from Guinea

Spring in the Pacific Northwest. Top Left: Skagit Valley Tulips, courtesy of Brooke Saari; Top Right: Apple Tree in bloom, courtesy Washington State University; Bottom Left: Cherry Orchard in The Dalles, courtesy of Oregon State University and Jan Sonnenmair Photography, Flickr CC 2.0; Bottom Right: Spring Daffodils, courtesy Brent M., Flickr CC 2.0.

Winter is in its final stages and spring is knocking on our door. As a Florida native living in Washington, I for one am ready for some sunshine, flowers and warmth! While I dream of that glorious spring, I’d like to reflect on what an impressive year of growth the Agriculture Climate Network experienced in 2016, and what we are shooting for over the next year. Continue reading

Parched and drenched – we can expect both in the Northwest

By: Sonia A. Hall

The snow-covered landscape, the Columbia River, and the pine forests covered with signs of the recent ice storm provided the backdrop for the Climate Impacts to Water Conference, hosted by Washington State University Extension. University of Idaho climate scientist John Abatzoglou gave a plenary talk, titled Parched and Drenched: Future Climate and Water Resources in the Pacific Northwest (check out the recording here).

What I really liked about Abatzoglou’s presentation was that he focused on one key number, and then got into the weeds of what it means and why it’s important to us. That key number in this case was the fact that the Northwest has seen an increase in average temperatures of 1°C (that’s almost 2°F, if you prefer Fahrenheit), which has mostly occurred in the last 50 years. Is this an important change, and should we care? Yes, because this past temperature increase has already led to more rain and less snow, a reduced winter snowpack, and spring runoff coming earlier in the year, leaving us drier in the summer. Continue reading

Large Storms May Help Snowpack

By: CIRCulator Editorial Staff
Reprinted From: The Climate CIRCulator

Oregon Coast. (Photo: Luke Detwiler, some rights reserved.)

It’s that time again. It’s time to talk about atmospheric rivers, that key weather pattern wherein moist air from the subtropics is drawn in a line to the West Coast, delivering a significant portion of the Pacific Northwest’s winter precipitation.

Lots of winter precipitation is good for the Pacific Northwest, so long as it’s a certain type of precipitation: snow. According to a new study by CIRC and OCCRI’s very own David Rupp and Sihan Li, atmospheric rivers might not only create large precipitation events but also keep temperatures cool enough to turn that precipitation into snow. Continue reading