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  • 28 Jul 2014

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National Climate Assessment: Oregon and the Northwest

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment including regional impact findings.

As part of the Northwest, Oregon’s economy, infrastructure, public health, natural systems and agriculture are all at risk, according to the assessment.

Because water patterns are drastically changing with the extreme weather caused by carbon emissions, the life cycles and habitats of forests and animals have been altered, according to the assessment.

It predicts tree die-offs will change forest landscapes by 2040 and with the projected increase in carbon emissions, dense forests will be converted to stunted foliage by 2080 due to harsh growth conditions.

Regionally, the Northwest’s average temperature has increased by 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895.

By 2050, the assessment predicts snowmelt will happen three to four weeks earlier than the 20th century average.

This will affect fisheries and freshwater species such as salmon, steelhead and trout, endangering them by increased flooding in the winter and decreased water flow in the summer.

The assessment’s projected warming will reduce availability of irrigation to snowmelt basins, increasing heat stress to crops, though some may benefit from the longer growing periods, frost-free periods and warmer winters for a few decades.

The increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere decreases pH in the oceans. Ocean acidification will harm oysters, Pacific salmon and the marine food chain. The sea levels and water temperatures continue to rise.

Take heart. In Oregon, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal have increased 150 percent since 2009. Nationally, solar electricity increased tenfold and wind electricity tripled.

The U.S. government has supported 1,856 renewable energy projects in Oregon since 2009. Oregon’s goal is to generate 25 percent of electricity through renewable sources by 2025.

View the official Oregon fact sheet.

Julia Rogers can be reached at 503-546-5137 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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