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Updated 19 April 2007

US National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Pacific Northwest


For additional information, see the Pacific Northwest Mega-Region


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Links to Material from the Pacific Northwest Assessment Group:

Workshop Reports:

Assessment Report

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

The Workshop

A workshop was organized July 14-16, 1997, by the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans (JISAO) Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, as part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The workshop was attended by over 80 stakeholders from the Pacific Northwest. Participants were drawn from the areas of academia, government (local, state, regional, and federal), business, community organizations, and Native American tribal organizations.

The Pacific Northwest (PNW) (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) is a region of tremendous environmental, economic, climatic, and demographic contrasts. While the diversity of the ecological, economic, and climatological systems of the PNW renders a simple description of the region difficult, much of the region's wealth stems from this very complexity.

Issues for Analysis

The follow-up assessment for the Pacific Northwest utilized a two phased approach and considered a limited number of key sectors and issues that are critical in the Pacific Northwest region. The issues addressed in phase one include: Forestry, Water, Salmon, and the Coastal Zone. Additional issues are under consideration for a phase two effort. The Assessment focus was on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.

Strategy for the Assessment

The Pacific Northwest regional assessment is solidly grounded in climate dynamics. This region sees climate impact science in the form of a triangle, with the vertices represented by climate dynamics, biogeochemical or natural systems, and human socioeconomic and political systems. The entity at each vertex influences, and is influenced by, the others. Climate is therefore not the only forcing function; human intervention is also very powerful.

Throughout the study, the approach was to use observed data to establish the impacts of observed climate variations on a variety of biophysical parameters, rather than simply to use simulations from a chain of models.

Not only do past data reveal biophysical relationships between climate variations and the region's natural resources, they also highlight the response of human institutions to climate variability and especially to extremes of climate, like drought. The Assessment Report is available.

Principal Investigators Edward Miles, University of Washington
Philip Mote, University of Washington
Coordinating Federal Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Agency Representatives Woody Turner
Alex Tuyahov
Claudia Nierenberg, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Additional Involvement National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Key Sectors/Issues
  • Forestry (phase 1)
  • Water (1)
  • Marine Ecosystems (1)
  • Coasts (1)
  • Agriculture (2)
  • Health (2)

Assessment Team

  • Doug Canning, Washington Department of Ecology
  • David Fluharty, University of Washington
  • Robert Francis, University of Washington
  • Jerry Franklin, University of Washington
  • Alan Hamlet, University of Washington
  • Gretchen Hund, Battelle Seattle Research Center
  • Richard Hoskins, Washington Department of Health
  • Daniel Huppert, University of Washington
  • Ann Marie Kimball, University of Washington
  • Dennis Lettenmaier, University of Washington
  • Ruby Leung, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Nathan Mantua, University of Washington
  • Edward Miles, University of Washington
  • Philip Mote, University of Washington
  • Barbara Tempalski, University of Washington
  • Trina Wellman, Battelle Seattle Research Center

Graduate Students

  • Kristyn Gray, University of Washington
  • Bill Keeton, University of Washington
  • Venkatesh Sundararaman, University of Washington


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