A warming Q&A

Philip Mote is a research scientist at Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, where he is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Mote was named the state’s climatologist in 2003.

Question: What are some concerns about climate change in Washington state?

Answer: If you look at the whole country and you ask a question like, which areas of the country will see the biggest shifts in stream flow as a result of a given amount of warming, the Cascades just jump out as a very significant area of change. Because we have so much snow storage at moderate elevations and moderate temperatures, we can see, and indeed already have seen, pretty significant shifts in the timing of stream flow and in summer stream flow volumes. It’s quantifiably related to temperature changes.

Question: How much warming is expected to take place in the future?

Answer: Roughly half a degree Fahrenheit per decade for the next 50 years, roughly 2&189; degrees in 50 years time. It could be substantially lower, or it could be substantially higher. Whether it’s at the low end or the high end, depends quite a bit on the future path of greenhouse gas emissions.

Question: How much snowpack has been lost in the Cascade Mountains?

Answer: As of April 1, there has been a “15-35 percent decline since a mid-century start point. You can choose a wide range of starting points and a wide range of approaches to processing data, and you come up with something in that range.”

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