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Thu Nov 11 13:32:27 EST 1999
The following article appeared in The Oregonian , Nov. 10, 1999, p D1
FORECAST: NW WET, WARMER IN 2050
A group of 19 regional scientists thinks there is a relationship between
the buildup of gases and increasing average temperatures
By MICHELLE COLE, The Oregonian
An Oregon with temperatures 5 degrees higher sounds almost balmy,
especially on a wet, chilly November day. The rest of the forecast for
the year 2050 sounds a little less appealing:
- More rain: Oregon and the rest of the Northwest could experience
as much as 5 percent more rain and snow.
- More flooding: Higher temperatures will reduce the snowpack,
raising the snow line in the Cascades by 1,000 feet. The snow would melt
earlier, sending water gushing down streams and rivers while the ground
still is soaked from spring rains.
- More forest fires. Summers will be hotter and drier, stressing
trees and leaving them vulnerable to disease, pests and fires.
The forecast for 2050 was part of a study on the effects of climate
change on the Northwest released Tuesday by the University of
Washington's Climate Impacts Group.
"The consensus of climate scientists is that a warmer world in the
next century is more than just a reasonable possibility," said Philip
Mote, a UW research scientists who is the lead author of the new study.
Mote was among 19 regional scientists and policy analysts hired by
the federal government to analyze Northwest weather trends. The group's
report is part of a national assessment of climate change.
The scientists said that average temperatures in Oregon, Washington
and Idaho have risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit and that rainfall has
increased by an average of 2.9 inches since 1900. Seven climate models
suggest that the Northwest could warm by an average of 2 degrees in the
next 20 years and by as much as 5 degrees by 2050, they said.
Mote and his colleagues are unwilling to draw a direct connection
between violent storms or higher temperatures and the greenhouse-effect
buildup in the atmosphere of gases such as carbon dioxide spewed from
automobiles and coal-fired power plants. But they think there is some
relationship between the buildup of gases and the global increase in
Some scientists say there's insufficient proof to link human
activities with global temperature trends.
Oregon state climatologist George Taylor said he thinks the region's
weather is determined by 20- to 25-year wet and dry cycles that have
nothing to do with global warming. "I know the people at Washington,"
Taylor said. "I respect them. They trust the climate models, and, in
general, I don't."
The Climate Impacts Group argues that there's enough evidence about
climate change for government officials and natural resource managers to
take it into account. The likelihood of warmer weather, wetter winters
and drier summers should figure in planning for urban development,
forest management and regional efforts to aid endangered salmon, the
"At present the region is ill-prepared to tackle a changing
climate," said Edward Miles, leader of the Climate Impacts Group and a
University of Washington professor of marine affairs. The Northwest
should be planning for water shortages, Miles said.
The Climate Impacts Group will present its findings in a series of
public workshops. The first will be at 10:30 a.m. today in Room C on the
second floor of the Portland Building, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave. The second
will be at 2 p.m. in Hearing Room B of the Capitol Building in Salem.
Comment by poster: Mr. Taylor accurately predicted in July that the
summer and fall would be among the driest on record, and could be
followed by an extreme cold snap. For the second time in the last 53
years, the Oregon Mycological Society's fall mushroom show was cancelled
due to lack of rainfall. While Oregon is currently receiving lots of
rain, many areas have already received a frost, meaning the end to many
mushroom fruitings. OTOH, global models predicting climatic change in
weather conditions have already forecast stronger tropical storms,
heavier rainfall for the PNW, greater snowfall, and colder ocean
currents hitting Oregon and Washington. Predictions of both sides have
proven true over the last 5 years. These predictions have been as far as
3 years in advance to 3 months in advance. Only the future will tell who
has the more accurate data.
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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