Projecting Future Climate, Vegetation, and Hydrology in the Pacific Northwest

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Northwest CSC, NOAA’s Climate Impacts Research Consortium

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Philip Mote (Oregon State University)

In the Pacific Northwest, temperatures are projected to increase 2-15°F by 2100. Winters are expected to become wetter and summers could become drier. Snowpack will likely decrease substantially, and snowmelt runoff may occur earlier in the year. Wildfires are projected to become more frequent and severe, and forest types are expected to change from maritime evergreen to subtropical mixed-woodlands.
Because the impacts of climate change vary from place to place, regionally-specific climate projections are critical to help farmers, foresters, city planners, public utility providers, and fish and wildlife managers plan for how to best manage resources. However, the models that are used to project changes in climate are produced at the global scale and do not provide the degree of resolution necessary for generating meaningful projections about changing conditions for a given region.
To address this need, researchers first evaluated the ability of different global climate models to simulate observed patterns in the Northwest. The best-performing models were then downscaled – that is, transformed from a global scale to a regional scale. Researchers then used the downscaled models to project future changes in climate, vegetation, and hydrology in the region.
This project resulted in publically-available datasets that can be used to address place-based management questions in the Northwest and to develop strategies for reducing the impacts of climate change on the region’s ecosystems, agricultural systems, and built environments. For example, the results can help managers identify forests and grasslands that are most vulnerable to climate change, enabling them to prioritize investments to increase the resilience of these landscapes. Information on projected changes in climate, vegetation, and hydrology is vital as resource managers seek to plan for the impacts of changing conditions and develop effective management strategies. 

Northwest springs - Credit: Greg Winters, USGS

Affiliation(s): Northwest CSC, NOAA’s Climate Impacts Research Consortium

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Philip Mote (Oregon State University)
  • John Abatzoglou (University of Idaho)
  • Dennis P Lettenmaier (University of Washington)
  • David Turner (Oregon State University)
  • David E Rupp (Oregon State University)
  • Dominique Bachelet (Conservation Biology Institute)
  • Nicholas Coops (University of British Columbia)
  • John Kim (U.S. Forest Service)
  • Tim Sheehan (Oregon State University)
  • Ken Ferschweiler (Conservation Biology Institute)
  • Katherine Hegewisch (University of Idaho)
  • Bart Nijssen (U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Matt Stumbaugh (University of Washington)

Start Date: September 2012

End Date: June 2014

Project Status: Completed

Tags: Climate change, Hydrology, vegetation, Predictive modeling, Northwest, Northwest, CSC, Northwest CSC, 2012, Education, Modeling and Tools, Climate and Ecosystem Modeling

Fiscal Year: FY 2012 Projects

Publications & Other

  • Climate change effects on southern California deserts

      • Comparing CMIP5 and CMIP3 for the Pacific Northwest

          • Divergence of ecosystem services in U.S. National Forests and Grasslands under a changing climate

              • Evaluation of CMIP5 20th century climate simulations for the Pacific Northwest USA

                  • Projected major fire and vegetation changes in the Pacific Northwest of the conterminous United States under selected CMIP5 climate futures

                      • Seasonal Climate Variability and Change in the Pacific Northwest of the United States

                          • Seasonal spatial patterns of projected anthropogenic warming in complex terrain: a modeling study of the western US

                              • Selecting climate change scenarios using impact-relevant sensitivities

                                  • Tracking Interannual Streamflow Variability with Drought Indices in the U.S. Pacific Northwest

                                      • Climate Change & Ecosystems: Simulating Vegetation & Fire Response for the Western US

                                          • Climate Change & Hydrology in the Northwest: Understanding, Using and Accessing the Data

                                              • Climate Change & Water Resources/Hydrology in the Northwest

                                                  • Climate Change Projections for the Northwest

                                                      • Climate Change Projections: Understanding, Using and Accessing the Data

                                                          • Final Report for "Integrated Scenarios of Climate, Hydrology, and Vegetation for the Northwest"

                                                            • NWCSC_G12AC20495_OSU_Mote_FinalReport_07Oct14.pdf (Download)
                                                            • Future Climate, Vegetation, and Hydrology in the Northwest


                                                                • CMIP5 MC2 results

                                                                  • DRECP Climate Data

                                                                    • Integrated Climate Scenarios Visualizations

                                                                      • Integrated Scenarios Project Website

                                                                        • Multivariate Adaptive Constructed Analogs(MACA) Statistical Downscaling Method