Check it out: The State of the Science on Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

By Gabrielle Roesch-McNally

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) was just released on November 23, 2018. The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) provide a report to Congress and the President just about every four years. This report focuses on the human welfare, societal and environmental impacts associated with climate change and variability across 10 regions in the U.S., and across 18 topics of national significance. Many collaborators across the Northwest participated in writing for the Northwest chapter. In this chapter, we outline five Key Messages that illustrate how climate change will impact different aspects of life in the Northwest (Figure 1):  

Venn diagram showing the five key messages, and how the year 2015 is relevant to each of the first four.
Figure 1. Figure 24.2 from the Northwest Chapter (Ch. 24) of the Fourth National Climate Assessment report. Figure is used with permission from USGCRP.
  • our natural resource economy
  • the natural world and cultural heritage
  • our infrastructure
  • our health
  • our frontline communities, who often experience the first and worst impacts.

The chapter also examines how the year of 2015 may act as a prelude of what is to come. In 2015, the Northwest experienced “severe drought, large wildfires, heat waves, and harmful algal blooms,” that impacted ecological, social, cultural, and economic aspects of our lives.

One thing is for sure, we can expect more extreme climatic variability in our future, with very real consequences to the agriculture, rangeland and forestry sectors. Be sure to check out the report and join some upcoming webinars to learn more:

  • Join the Pacific Northwest Drought & Climate Outlook Webinar on December 17, 2018 from 11am-12pm to get information on drought status and impacts as well as an overview of the Northwest chapter of the NCA4.
  • Join the PNW Tribal Climate Change Network webinar on December 19, 2018 from 10-11am to get an overview of the Indigenous and Northwest chapters of the NCA4.


May, C., C. Luce, J. Casola, M. Chang, J. Cuhaciyan, M. Dalton, S. Lowe, G. Morishima, P. Mote, A. Petersen, G. Roesch-McNally, and E. York, 2018: Northwest. In Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.CH24


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *