Skip to Main Content
Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.
A climate-change scenario for the Columbia River Basin.Author(s): Sue A. Ferguson
Source: Res. Pap. PNW-RP-499. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Publication Series: Research Paper (RP)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
View PDF (1.6 MB)
DescriptionThis work describes the method used to generate a climate-change scenario for the Columbia River basin. The scenario considers climate patterns that may change if the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (C02), or its greenhouse gas equivalent, were to double over pre-Industrial Revolution values. Given the current rate of increase in atmospheric C02 concentration, doubling could occur within the next 50 to 100 years.
The Columbia River basin is in a transition climate zone between predominating maritime to the west, arctic to the north, and continental to the east. Consequently, it is difficult to characterize through means and averages. Therefore, many of the current stochastic methods for developing climate-change scenarios cannot directly apply to the basin. To circumvent this problem, a composite approach was taken to generate a climate scenario that considers knowledge of current regional climate controls, available output from general circulation and regional climate models, and observed changes in climate.
The resulting climate-change scenario suggests that precipitation could increase substantially during winter (+20 to +50 percent) and moderately during spring and autumn (+5 to +35 percent). A slight decrease (0 to -5 percent) in summer precipitation is possible, except for the southeastern portions of the basin that may experience an increase in convective precipitation (+5 percent).
Low-elevation (<1 kilometer) temperatures throughout the year may increase 1 to 3 °C, with greatest increases during winter. This amount of temperature change is possible because of an expected loss of low-elevation snow cover. At high elevations, increased cloud cover could cause average temperatures to decrease during winter but be synchronized with possible warming at low elevations during summer. The diurnal range of temperature could decrease, especially in summer and autumn.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationFerguson, Sue A. 1997. A climate-change scenario for the Columbia River Basin. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-499. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Keywordsclimate, climate change, climate scenario, Columbia River basin, Pacific Northwest, global warming, general circulation model, regional climate model, global change, global climate, greenhouse gas
- Climatology of the interior Columbia River basin.
- Climate change impacts on northwestern and intermountain United States rangelands
- Climate change and wildlife in the southern United States: potential effects and management options
XML: View XML