Climate change increasing risks in Northwest

SEATTLE — Global warming is already altering Northwest forest landscapes, increasing wildfire risks and threatening coastal communities, according to a new federal scientific report released Tuesday.

The National Climate Assessment provides a detailed look at the regional and state-level effects of climate change. It lists key concerns for Washington, Idaho and Oregon:

WATER RELATED CHALLENGES: Regional warming has been linked to changes in the amount and the timing of snowmelt, which provides a bulk of the region’s water supply, the report says. Declining snowpack and changes in the snowmelt timing are already happening and will continue, reducing the supply of water for farming, communities and fish. Without changes, annual hydropower production is much more likely to decrease than to increase in the Columbia River basin; such hydropower changes could cost millions of dollars a year.

COASTAL VULNERABILITY: Rising sea level, erosion and ocean acidification pose a major threat to infrastructure, ecosystems and economic activity, the report says. As sea levels continue to rise, more than 140,000 acres of coastal lands in Washington and Oregon that lie within 3.3 feet in elevation of high tide will be inundated more frequently. The rising acidity of the ocean also threatens oysters and other marine food web, such as Pacific salmon, while increasing coastal water temperatures and changing conditions may alter how well certain marine species survive.

IMPACTS ON FOREST: Climate change will alter Northwest forests by increasing wildfire risk and insect and tree disease outbreaks, and by forcing long-term shifts in forest types and species, the report says. Those impacts are already causing widespread tree die-offs and are certain to cause more forest die-offs by 2040. Though wildfires are a natural part of the Northwest, warmer and drier conditions have helped boost the number and extent of wildfires in U.S. Western forests since 1970s, and that trend is expected to continue. Higher temperatures and outbreaks of mountain pine beetles, for example, area increasing pine tree die-offs in drier forests.

More in Local News

Man suspected of robbing Rite Aids

Mill Creek police released a sketch Monday evening of the suspect.

Police looking for Lynnwood bank robber

The robber did not flash a weapon to the teller at a U.S. Bank.

Here’s how much property taxes will rise to pay for schools

The owner of a $350,000 home is looking at a property-tax hike of nearly $300 this year.

Everett man accused of causing his baby’s brain damage

He told police he shook his son to get him to stop crying, and the boy slipped out of his hands.

At one point she dropped out; now she’s graduation-bound

Anita Bradford-Diaz has had her share of setbacks, but they only seem to increase her motivation.

Employee threats caused lockdown at Arlington elementary

Arlington Police said all students and staff were.

Residents are helping turn Casino Road in a new direction

An initiative backed by a $700,000 grant goes to the community for solutions to the area’s challenges.

With an immigrant’s help, kids reach out to Filipino children

Marysville students drew and sent portraits. Thanks to a video, they got to see the reaction.

Live in Edmonds? Hate speeders?

Edmonds has $35,000 to address local residents’ concerns about speeding in their… Continue reading

Most Read