Temperature–Climate Impacts CIRC 1.0 Final Report


During the 20th century the Pacific Northwest warmed by 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.3 degrees Fahrenheit), according to CIRC research. That warming has continued in recent years and is expected to continue throughout the 21st century, bringing a series of cascading effects to our landscapes, producing impacts as varied as winter flooding and raging wildfires. The growing season expanded and the coldest night of the year warmed dramatically, especially east of the Cascades, according to our research.

OSU_icon_bulb_Black Key Findings:

  • By the year 2100, the Pacific Northwest could be anywhere from 1 to 8 degrees Celsius (2–15 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was during the second half of the 20th century, according to our NOAA RISA team’s analysis.
  • The increase in temperature was a clear trend across all climate simulations used in our analysis, meaning we can say with a high degree of certainty, or confidence, that the Pacific Northwest will continue to warm under climate change adapted).


Projected annual temperature simulations for the Pacific Northwest to 
the year 2100

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Projected annual temperatures are shown as measured against the historical annual average, shown as the dashed, zero line. The information here represents the output of 40 simulations, or computer-run experiments, showing what our region’s future temperatures are projected to look like under climate change. All the simulations point toward rising temperatures. The question is to what extent. This graph answers this question by representing a range of uncertainty using two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, a medium- and high-emissions scenario represented here by yellow and red, respectively. In the RCP 4.5 emissions scenario, growth in greenhouse gases is less than RCP 8.5, leading to a slower increase and eventually a leveling off of temperatures. In the high-emissions scenario, RCP 8.5, a steady growth in greenhouses leads to a steady upward trend in temperatures. (For more information on emission scenarios, see the brief description on our website: http://pnwcirc.org/ science/pathways.) Historical simulated temperatures are represented in gray. Keep in mind, this isn’t the actual historical record taken from in-the-field instruments; instead, it represents how the computer models simulated the climate over the historic period given observed atmospheric forcings. This graph comes from CIRC’s Integrated Scenarios project. (Figure source: David e. Rupp; data source: Rupp et al. 2016, adapted.)

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OSU_icon_gears_Black  Resources:

OSU_icon_pencil_Black Rotated Publications:

  • Abatzoglou, John T., David E. Rupp, and Philip W. Mote. “Seasonal Climate Variability and Change in the Paci c Northwest of the United States.”
    Journal of Climate 27, no. 5 (2014): 2125-2142.
    https://doi.org/10.1175/ JCLI-D-13-00218.1.
  • Rupp, David E., John T. Abatzoglou, Katherine C. Hegewisch, and Philip W. Mote. “Evaluation of CMIP5 20th Century Climate Simulations for the Paci c Northwest USA.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 118, no. 19 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1002/jgrd.50843.
  • Rupp, David E., John T. Abatzoglou, and Philip W. Mote. “Projections of 21st Century Climate of the Columbia River Basin.” Climate Dynamics (2016): 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-016-3418-7.

OSU_icon_pencil_Black Rotated Full Report:

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Gilles, Nathan G., Josh Foster, Meghan M. Dalton, Philip W. Mote, David E. Rupp, John Stevenson, Katherine A. Serafin, Janan Evans-Wilent, Peter Ruggiero, John T. Abatzoglou, Timothy J. Sheehan, Katherine C. Hegewisch, Denise H. Lach, Jessica Andrepont, and Kathie D. Dello. Responding to Climate Variability and Change in the Pacific Northwest United States: the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium, September 2010–August 2017 Phase 1 Final Report. the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC), a NOAA RISA team. Corvallis, Oregon: College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 2017.

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Nathan Gilles is the managing editor of The Climate Circulator, and oversees CIRC’s social media accounts and website. When he’s not writing for CIRC, Nathan works as a freelance science writer. Other Posts by this Author. 

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