Thursday, February 14, 2013

Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

By Anna Bertrand

Climate change often feels like more of a global problem than a local one. However, for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, Climate Change has the potential to affect our beautiful natural environment as temperatures continue to rise.

How fortunate are we to have gorgeous coastlines within driving distance? Most states do not have this area to appreciate. Global warming’s affect on the increase in sea levels as well winter precipitation, and the possibility of southeasterly winter storms will likely cause a drastic alteration in our coastlines as flooding, landslides, and erosion become more common with these events.

Salmon are also another cherished aspect of the Pacific Northwest.  Their sensitivity to their environment and the resulting amount of success with breeding means that they will be particularly susceptible to climate change.  Warm periods have specifically been shown to have a negative affect on salmon numbers. Greater rain fall rather than snow fall, as well as higher winter stream flows will cause damage to spawning nests and incubating eggs as the current scours streambeds.

Climate change also has the ability to affect our beautiful forests. Although biologists are not positive what scenario will take place, the most likely possibility is that rising carbon dioxide levels will increase forest growth initially, but rising temperatures will eventually overwhelm these growing efforts. Warmer temperatures will also affect the ecosystems in that many species may have to migrate in order to maintain their optimal environment, causing shifts in the very fragile ecosystems that typically do not take well to change.

From the scenery to living organisms, climate change has the ability to affect our visible world. Even though climate change may seem global and inevitable, we can prolong the beauty of our environment by taking little steps to reduce our own contribution to climate change!


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