OSU researchers foresee more climate change calamities

E. Slizowski

The Waldo Canyon fire burned out of control in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2012. Oregon State University researchers said climate change could lead to more such occurrences.

Fewer than three weeks after warning coastal residents that climate change will wreak havoc on the world’s oceans, Oregon State University researchers have turned their attention to the dangers of early snow melt and low summer stream flows.

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute also warned that climate change could cause a decline in forest health. The warnings, part of the first regional climate assessment released since 1999, result from studies based on “new science as well as some additional dimensions, including the impact of climate change on human health and tribal issues.”

“As we looked across both economic and ecological dimensions, the three that stood out were less snow, more wildfires and challenges to the coastal environment and infrastructure,” said Amy Snover,

Amy Snover, director of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, one of the report’s editors.

Among the findings:

  • Studies show that snow melt is occurring earlier, which is bringing a decline in stream flows in summer. Early snow melt can also lead to a huge increase in wildfires and diseases.
  • Plus, climate change-enabled coastal issues continue to grow, leading to sea level rises and ocean acidification, among other situations. Sea levels are expected to rise as much as 56 inches, or nearly five feet, by the year 2100.
  • The research indicates the Northwest will warm by a range of three to 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) by the year 2100.

The report was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU, among other sources.


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