Climatic Change

, Volume 61, Issue 1–2, pp 45–88 | Cite as

Preparing for Climatic Change: The Water, Salmon, and Forests of the Pacific Northwest

  • Philip W. Mote
  • Edward A. Parson
  • Alan F. Hamlet
  • William S. Keeton
  • Dennis Lettenmaier
  • Nathan Mantua
  • Edward L. Miles
  • David W. Peterson
  • David L. Peterson
  • Richard Slaughter
  • Amy K. Snover


The impacts of year-to-year and decade-to-decade climatic variations on some of the Pacific Northwest's key natural resources can be quantified to estimate sensitivity to regional climatic changes expected as part of anthropogenic global climatic change. Warmer, drier years, often associated with El Niño events and/or the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, tend to be associated with below-average snowpack, streamflow, and flood risk, below-average salmon survival, below-average forest growth, and above-average risk of forest fire. During the 20th century, the region experienced a warming of 0.8 °C. Using output from eight climate models, we project a further warming of 0.5–2.5 °C (central estimate 1.5 °C) by the 2020s, 1.5–3.2°C (2.3 °C) by the 2040s, and an increase in precipitation except in summer. The foremost impact of a warming climate will be the reduction of regional snowpack, which presently supplies water for ecosystems and human uses during the dry summers. Our understanding of past climate also illustrates the responses of human management systems to climatic stresses, and suggests that a warming of the rate projected would pose significant challenges to the management of natural resources. Resource managers and planners currently have few plans for adapting to or mitigating the ecological and economic effects of climatic change.


Climatic Change Natural Resource Streamflow Climatic Variation Forest Fire 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agee, J. K.: 1993, Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests, Island Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  2. Bachelet, D., Neilson, R. P., Lenihan, J. M., and Drapek, R. J.: 2001, 'Climate Change Effects on Vegetation Distribution and Carbon Budget in the United States', Ecosystems 4, 164.Google Scholar
  3. Bazzaz, F. A., Bassow, S. L., Berntson, G. M., and Thomas, S. C.: 1996, 'Elevated CO2 and Terrestrial Vegetation: Implications for and beyond the Blobal Carbon Budget', in Walker, B. and Steffen, W. (eds.), Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Cambridge University Press, pp. 43–76.Google Scholar
  4. Beamish, R. J. and Bouillon, D. R.: 1993, 'Pacific Salmon Production Trends in Relation to Climate', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50, 1002.Google Scholar
  5. Boer, G. J., Flato, G. M., Reader, M. C., and Ramsden, D.: 2000, 'A Transient Climate Change Simulation with Historical and Projected Greenhouse Gas and Aerosol Forcing: Experimental Design and Comparison with the Instrumental Record for the 20th Century', Clim. Dyn. 16, 405.Google Scholar
  6. Brubaker, L. B.: 1986, 'Responses of Tree Populations to Climatic Change', Vegetatio 67, 119.Google Scholar
  7. Callahan, B., Miles, E., and Fluharty, D.: 1999, 'Policy Implications of Climate Forecasts for Water Resources Management in the Pacific Northwest', Policy Sciences 32, 269.Google Scholar
  8. Cleveland, W. S.: 1993, Visualizing Data, Hobart Press, Summit, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, S. J., Miller, K. A., Hamlet, A. F., and Avis, W.: 2000, 'Climate Change and Resource Management in the Columbia River Basin', Water Internat. 25, 253.Google Scholar
  10. Dale, V. H. and Franklin, J. F.: 1989, 'Potential Effects of Climate Change on Stand Development in the Pacific Northwest', Can. J. Forest Res. 19, 1581.Google Scholar
  11. Daly, C., Bachelet, D., Lenihan, J. M., Neilson, R. P., Parton, W., and Ojima, D.: 2000, 'Dynamic Simulation of Tree-Grass Interactions for Global Change Studies', Ecol. Appl. 10, 449.Google Scholar
  12. Dufford, W.: 1995, 'Washington Water Law: A Primer', Illahee 11, 29.Google Scholar
  13. Emori, S., Nozawa, T., Abe-Ouchi, A., Numaguti, A., Kimoto, M., and Nakajima, T: 1999, 'Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Model Experiments of Future Climate Change with an Explicit Representation of Sulfate Aerosol Scattering', J. Met. Soc. Japan 77, 1299.Google Scholar
  14. Fluharty, D., Gray, K., and Miles, E. L.: 1998, Climate Forecasts and Management of Fisheries and Forests in the Pacific Northwest, JISAO/SMA Climate Impacts Group Year 3 Progress Report.Google Scholar
  15. Franklin, J. F., Moir, W. H., Douglas, G.W., and Wiberg, C.: 1971, 'Invasion of Subalpine Meadows by Trees in the Cascade Range, Washington and Oregon', Arc. Alp. Res. 3, 215.Google Scholar
  16. Gedalof, Z., Peterson, D. L., and Mantua, N. J.: 2003, Atmospheric, Climatic and Ecological Controls on Extreme Wildfire Years in the Northwestern United States, submitted to Ecological Applications.Google Scholar
  17. Gedalof, Z. and Smith, D. J.: 2001, 'Interdecadal Climate Variability and Regime-Scale Shifts in Pacific North America', Geophys. Res. Lett. 28, 1515.Google Scholar
  18. Giorgi, F. and Bates, G.: 1989, 'On Climatological Skill of a Regional Model over Complex Terrain', Mon. Wea. Rev. 117, 2325.Google Scholar
  19. Giorgi, F., Brodeur, C. S., and Bates, G. T.: 1994, 'Regional Climate Change Scenarios over the United States Produced with a Nested Regional Climate Model', J. Climate 7, 375.Google Scholar
  20. Glantz, M. H.: 1982, 'Consequences and Responsibilities in Drought Forecasting: The Case of Yakima, 1977', Water Resour. Res. 18, 3.Google Scholar
  21. Gordon, C., Cooper, C., Senior, C. A., Banks, H. T., Gregory, J. M., Johns, T. C., Mitchell, J. F. B., and Wood, R. A.: 2000, 'Simulation of SST, Sea Ice Extents, and Ocean Heat Transports in a Version of the Hadley Centre Coupled Model without Flux Adjustments', Clim. Dyn. 16, 147.Google Scholar
  22. Gordon, H. B. and O'Farrell, S. P.: 1997, 'Transient Climate Change in the CSIRO Coupled Model with Dynamic Sea Ice', Mon. Wea. Rev. 125, 875.Google Scholar
  23. Gray, K. N.: 1999, The Impacts of Drought on Yakima Valley Irrigated Agriculture and Seattle Municipal and Industrial Water Supply, Master's Thesis, School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  24. Hamlet, A. F., Huppert, D., and Lettenmaier, D. P., 2002: 'Economic Value of Long-Lead Streamflow Forecasts for Columbia River Hydropower', ASCE J. Water Res. Plan. Manage. 128, 91.Google Scholar
  25. Hamlet, A. F. and Lettenmaier, D. P.: 1999, 'Effects of Climate Change on Hydrology and Water Resources Objectives in the Columbia River Basin', J. Amer. Water Resources Assoc. 35, 1597.Google Scholar
  26. Hare, S. R. and Mantua, N. J.: 2000, 'Empirical Evidence for North Pacific Regime Shifts in 1977 and 1989', Progress in Oceanography 47, 103.Google Scholar
  27. Hare, S. R., Mantua, N. J., and Francis, R. C.: 1999, Inverse Production Regimes: Alaskan and West Coast Pacific Salmon, Fisheries 24, 6.Google Scholar
  28. Harr, R. D.: 1977, 'Water Flux in Soil and Subsoil in a Steep Forested Slope', J. Hydrology 33, 37.Google Scholar
  29. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): 1995, Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation of Climate Change, Scientific-Technical Analyses, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. IPCC: 2001a, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. IPCC: 2001b, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Johns T. C., Carnell, R. E., Crossley, J. F., Gregory, J. M., Mitchell, J. F. B., Senior, C. A., Tett, S. F. B., and Wood, R. A.: 1997, 'The Second Hadley Centre Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere GCM: Model Description, Spinup and Validation', Clim. Dyn. 13, 103.Google Scholar
  33. Jones, J. A. and Grant, G. E.: 2001, 'Peak Flow Responses to Clearcutting and Roads in Small and Large Basins', Water Resour. Res. 37, 179.Google Scholar
  34. Karl, T. R, Williams, C. N. Jr., Quinlan, F. T., and Boden, T. A.: 1990, United States Historical Climatology Network (HCN) Serial Temperature and Precipitation Data, Environmental Science Division Publication No. 3404, Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.Google Scholar
  35. Laprise, R., Caya, D., Giguere, M., Bergeron, G., Cote, H., Blanchet, J.-P., Boer, G. J., and McFarlane, N. A.: 1998, 'Climate and Climate Change inWestern Canada as Simulated by the Canadian Regional Climate Model', Atmosphere-Ocean, 36, 119.Google Scholar
  36. Leung, L. R. and Ghan, S. J.: 1999a, 'Pacific Northwest Climate Sensitivity Simulated by a Regional Climate Model Driven by a GCM. Part I: Control Simulations', J. Climate 12, 2010.Google Scholar
  37. Leung, L. R. and Ghan, S. J.: 1999b, 'Pacific Northwest Climate Sensitivity Simulated by a Regional Climate Model Driven by a GCM. Part II: 2 × CO2 Simulations', J. Climate 12, 2031.Google Scholar
  38. Little, R. L., Peterson, D. L., and Conquest, L. L.: 1994, 'Regeneration of Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) Following Fire: Effects of Climate and other Factors', Can. J. Forest Res. 24, 934.Google Scholar
  39. Logerwell, E. A., Mantua, N., Lawson, P., Francis, R. C., and Agostini, V.: 2003, 'Tracking Environmental Processes in the Coastal Zone for Understanding and Predicting Oregon Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Marine Survival', Fisheries Oceanography 12, 1.Google Scholar
  40. Manabe, S. and Stouffer, R. J.: 1996, 'Low Frequency Variability of Surface Air Temperature in a 1000 Year Integration of a Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean-Land Surface Model', J. Climate 9, 376.Google Scholar
  41. Mantua, N. J., Hare, S. R., Zhang, Y., Wallace, J. M., and Francis, R. C.: 1997, 'A Pacific Interdecadal Climate Oscillation with Impacts on Salmon Production', Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 78, 1069.Google Scholar
  42. McCullough, D. A.: 1999, A Review and Synthesis of Effects of Alterations to the Water Temperature Regime on Freshwater Life Stages of Salmonids, with Special Reference to Chinook Salmon, Region 10 Water Resources Assessment Report No. 910-R-99-010, United States EPA, Seattle.Google Scholar
  43. McKenzie, D., Hessl, A. E., and Peterson, D. L.: 2001, 'Recent Growth in Conifer Species of Western North America: Assessing Regional and Continentalspatial Patterns of Radial Growth Trends', Can. J. Forest Res. 31, 526.Google Scholar
  44. McPhaden, M. J. and 14 co-authors: 1998, 'The Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere Observing System: A Decade of Progress', J. Geophys. Res. 103, 14169–14240.Google Scholar
  45. Miles, E. L., Snover, A. K., Hamlet, A. F., Callahan, B., and Fluharty, D.: 2000, Pacific Northwest Regional Assessment: The Impacts of Climate Variability and Climate Change on the Water Resources of the Columbia River Basin, J. Amer. Water Res. Assoc. 36, 399.Google Scholar
  46. Mote, P. W. and 18 co-authors: 1999b, Impacts of Climate Variability and Change: Pacific Northwest, A report of the Pacific Northwest Regional Assessment Group for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. JISAO/SMA Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle.Google Scholar
  47. Mote, P. W., Keeton, W. S., and Franklin, J. F.: 1999a, 'Decadal Variations in Forest Fire Activity in the Pacific Northwest', 11th Conference on Applied Climatology, American Meteorol. Soc., Boston.Google Scholar
  48. Mote, P. W. and Mantua, N. J.: 2002, 'Coastal Upwelling in a Warmer Future', Geophys. Res. Letts, DOI 10.1029/2002GL016086.Google Scholar
  49. National Assessment Synthesis Team: 2001, Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, Report for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge U.K., 620 pp.Google Scholar
  50. National Research Council: 1996, Upstream, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  51. Neilson, R. P. and Drapek, R. J.: 1998, 'Potentially Complex Biosphere Responses to Transient Global Warming', Global Change Biology 4, 101.Google Scholar
  52. Palmer, R. N. and Hahn, M.: 2002, The Impacts of Climate Change on Portland's Water Supply: An Investigation of Potential Hydrologic and Management Impacts on the Bull Run System, A Report for the Portland Water Bureau, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  53. Palmisano, J. F., Ellis, R. H., and Kaczynski, V. W.: 1993, The Impact of Environmental Factors on Washington's Wild Anadromous Salmon and Trout, A Report prepared for Washington Forest Protection Association and the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia.Google Scholar
  54. Parson, E. A., Mote, P. W., Hamlet, A., Mantua, N., Snover, A., Keeton, W., Miles, E., Canning, D., and Ideker, K. G.: 2001, 'Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the Pacific Northwest. Chapter 9 in National Assessment Synthesis Team', Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, Report for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge U.K., 247 pp.Google Scholar
  55. Pearcy, W. G.: 1992, Ocean Ecology of North Pacific Salmonids, University of Washington Press, Seattle.Google Scholar
  56. Pearcy, W. G., Aydin, K. Y., and Brodeur, R. D.: 1999, 'What is the Carrying Capacity of the North Pacific Ocean for Salmonids?', Pisces Press 7, 17.Google Scholar
  57. Peterson, D. L.: 1998, 'Climate, Limiting Factors and Environmental Change in High-Altitude Forests of Western North America', in Benistion, M. and Innes, J. L. (eds.), Climatic Variability and Extremes: The Impact on Forests, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  58. Peterson, D. W. and Peterson, D. L.: 1994, 'Effects of Climate on Radial Growth of Subalpine Conifers in the North Cascade Mountains', Can. J. Forest Res. 24, 1921–1932.Google Scholar
  59. Peterson, D. W. and Peterson, D. L.: 2001, 'Mountain Hemlock Growth Responds to Climatic Variability at Annual and Decadal Scales', Ecology 82, 3330.Google Scholar
  60. Pinnix, W.: 1998, Climate and Puget Sound, JISAO/SMA Climate Impacts Group Year 3 Report, Seattle.Google Scholar
  61. Pulwarty, R. S. and Redmond, K. T.: 1997, 'Climate and Salmon Restoration in the Columbia River Basin: The Role and Usability of Seasonal Forecasts', Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. 73, 381.Google Scholar
  62. Roeckner, E., Arpe, K., Bengtsson, L., Christoph, M., Claussen, M., Dϋmenil, L., Esch, M., Giorgetta, M., Schlese, U., and Schulzweida, U.: 1996, The Atmospheric General Circulation Model ECHAM-4: Model Description and Simulation of Present-Day Climate, Report No. 218, Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  63. Seattle Public Utilities: 2001, Water supply Q&A,, accessed August 21, 2001.Google Scholar
  64. Slaughter, R. S., Hamlet, A., Huppert, D., Hamilton, J., and Mote, P.: 2002, 'Regulation vs. Markets: A Dialogue on Over-Allocation of Pacific Northwest River Basins', Policy Sciences, submitted.Google Scholar
  65. Snover, A. K., Miles, E. L., and Henry, B. C.: 1998, OSTP/USGCRP Regional Workshop on the Impacts of Global Climate Change on the Pacific Northwest, Final Report, JISAO/SMA Climate Impacts Group.Google Scholar
  66. Stone, E. L. and Kalisz, P. J.: 1991, 'On the Maximum Extent of Tree Roots', Forest Ecology and Management 46, 59.Google Scholar
  67. Stott, P. A. and Kettleborough, J. A.: 2002, 'Origins and Estimates of Uncertainty in Predictions of Twenty-First Century Temperature Rise', Nature 416, 723.Google Scholar
  68. Swetnam, T.W. and Betancourt, J. L.: 1990, 'Fire-Southern Oscillation Relations in the Southwestern United States', Science 249, 1017.Google Scholar
  69. Swetnam, T. W. and Lynch, A. M.: 1993, 'Multicentury Regional-Scale Patterns of Western Spruce Budworm Outbreaks', Ecol. Monogr. 63, 399.Google Scholar
  70. Terleckyj, N. E.: 1999a, Analytic Documentation of Three Alternate Socioeconomic Projections, 1997–2050, NPA Data Services, Limited, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  71. Terleckyj, N. E.: 1999b, Development of Three Alternate National Projections Scenarios, 1997–2050, NPA Data Services, Limited, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  72. Thomson, A. R., Sheperd, R. F., Harris, J. W. E., and Silversides, R. J.: 1984, 'Relating Weather to Outbreaks of Western Spruce Budworm in British Columbia', Canadian Entomologist 116, 375.Google Scholar
  73. VEMAP Members: 1995, ‘Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project: Comparing Biogeography and Biogeochemistry Models in a Continental-Scale Study of Terrestrial Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change and CO2 Doubling’, Global Biogeochem. Cycles 4, 407.Google Scholar
  74. Walker, R. V, Myers, K. W., Davis, N. D., Aydin, K. Y., Friddland, K. D., Carlson, H. R., Boehlert, G.W., Urawa, S., Ueno, Y., and Anma, G.: 2000, 'Diurnal Variation in the Thermal Environment Experienced by Salmonids in the North Pacific as Indicated by Data Storage Tags', Fisheries Oceanography 11, 171.Google Scholar
  75. Waring, R. H. and Franklin, J. F.: 1979, 'Evergreen Coniferous Forests of the Pacific Northwest', Science 204, 1380.Google Scholar
  76. Washington, W. M. and 10 others: 2000, 'Parallel Climate Model (PCM): Control and Transient Simulations', Clim. Dyn. 16, 755.Google Scholar
  77. Water Storage Task Force: 2001, Report to the Legislature, Publication No. 01-11-002, Washington State Department of Ecology, Olympia.Google Scholar
  78. Welch, D.W., Ishida, Y., and Nagasawa, K.: 1998, 'Thermal Limits and Ocean Migrations of Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka): Long-Term Consequences of Global Warming', Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 55, 937.Google Scholar
  79. Woodward, A., Schreiner, E. G., and Silsbee, D. G.: 1995, 'Climate, Geography, and Tree Establishment in Subalpine Meadows of the Olympic Mountains', Washington, U.S.A., Arctic and Alpine Res. 27, 217.Google Scholar
  80. Zobel, D. B., McKee, A., Hawk, G. M., and Dyrness, C. T.: 1976, 'Relationships of Environment to Composition, Structure, and Diversity of Forest Communities of the Central Western Cascades of Oregon', Ecol. Monogr. 46, 135.Google Scholar
  81. Zolbrod, A. N. and Peterson, D. L.: 1999, 'Response of High-Elevation Forests in the Olympic Mountains to Climatic Change', Can. J. Forest Res. 29, 1966.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip W. Mote
    • 1
  • Edward A. Parson
    • 2
  • Alan F. Hamlet
    • 3
    • 1
  • William S. Keeton
    • 4
  • Dennis Lettenmaier
    • 3
    • 1
  • Nathan Mantua
    • 1
  • Edward L. Miles
    • 1
  • David W. Peterson
    • 5
  • David L. Peterson
    • 6
    • 1
  • Richard Slaughter
    • 7
  • Amy K. Snover
    • 1
  1. 1.JISAO/SMA Climate Impacts GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleU.S.A.
  2. 2.John F. Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityU.S.A
  3. 3.Dept. of Civil and Environmental EngineeringU.S.A.
  4. 4.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of VermontU.S.A
  5. 5.Forest Sciences LaboratoryUSDA Forest ServiceWenatcheeU.S.A
  6. 6.Pacific Northwest Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceU.S.A.
  7. 7.Richard Slaughter AssociatesBoiseU.S.A

Personalised recommendations