Report: Oregon experiencing cold winter, but state's climate con - KPTV - FOX 12

Report: Oregon experiencing cold winter, but state's climate continues to warm

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Researchers studying Oregon's climate have a message: "Don't let this winter fool you."

Oregon's climate continues to warm, according to the third Oregon Climate Assessment Report.

The legislatively mandated report was produced by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University.

The report was released Thursday and will be presented to the Oregon State Legislature this month.  

The winter has been the coldest since 1990, according to Philip Mote, director of the OSU center and a co-author on the report, but overall temperatures are still getting warmer.

Kathie Dello, associate director of the institute, stated that December 2016 was the 11th coldest December on record in Oregon in 122 years of monitoring. However, the year was still among the top 10 warmest years on record for the state.

The climate assessment report looked at more than 300 studies published from 2013-2016 by researchers at universities, state and federal agencies, and elsewhere.

"The year 2015 has been described as foreshadowing what we can expect as normal conditions by the mid-21st century," said Meghan Dalton, a research assistant with the institute in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU, who led the report. "There were warmer temperatures that led to drought, low snowpack, and greater wildfire risk, with less water in the summer. That appears to be our future."

Some of the findings forecasted in the report include a rising sea level on the Oregon coast that will increase the risk of erosion and flooding, as well as higher estuary temperatures that will challenge migrating salmon and steelhead.

Heat waves are expected to become longer, more common and more intense in the Willamette Valley, increasing the risk for significant wildfire damage.

More precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow in the Cascade Mountains, according to the report, impacting ski resorts and changing when water will be available.

Overall, according to the report, Oregon's climate is projected to warm 3 to 7 degrees by the 2050s and 5 to 11 degrees by the 2080s under continued increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Burning fossil fuels to run our factories, heat our homes, and drive our cars produces heat-trapping gases that unequivocally warm the planet. Effects of warming are evident on physical, biological, and human and managed systems across the globe, and here in Oregon," the report states.

For the full report, go to occri.net

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