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WWETAC Focus Area: Environment

Kim, J.B., Monier, E., Sohngen, B., Pitts, G.S., Drapek, R., McFarland, J., Ohrel, S., Cole, J. 2017. Assessing climate change impacts, benefits of mitigation, and uncertainties on major global forest regions under multiple socioeconomic and emissions scenarios. Environmental Research Letters. 12(4): 045001-. TreeSearch link.

The moist conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest are complex ecosystems where the dominant tree species live for centuries. These forests have evolved under temperature regimes and precipitation patterns that are now changing. The annual average temperature in the region has increased 1.3°F over the last century, and year-to-year variability in precipitation has increased since 1970. Further changes in temperature (and expected 11°F increase by 2100) and precipitation patterns will fundamentally affect how these forests look, function, and provide resources, such as water, timber, and recreational opportunities. A change in climate will affect frequency and severity of natural disturbances. We can expect an increase in wildfire frequency and intensity and insect and disease outbreaks. These changes will transform landscapes and habitats for both wildlife and humans.

Figure 1. (Left) Predicted changes to vegetation in the Blue Mountains (OR) under the HADMGEM2-ES RCP8.5 future climate scenario.