Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming?

Monday, July 28, 2014
Cliff Mass Weather Blog

As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects?

A compelling case can be made that the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms.   A potential climate refuge.

Let's analyze this important question.

The anticipated issues, including sea level rise, water availability, hurricanes and tropical storms, heat waves and most other issues should not be problematic for the this area.

So what conclusion does one inevitably reach by studying the U.S. Climate Assessment, and the climate literature?

The Northwest is the place to be during global warming.   
  • Temperatures will rise more slowly than most of the nation due to the Pacific Ocean (see below)  
  • We will have plenty of precipitation, although the amount falling as snow will decline (will fall as rain instead).  But we can deal with that by building more reservoir and dam capacity (and some folks on the eastern slopes of the Cascades have proposed to do exactly that).
  • The Pacific Ocean will keep heat waves in check and we don't get hurricanes.
  • Sea level rise is less of a problem for us due to our substantial terrain and the general elevation rise of our shorelines.  Furthermore, some of our land is actually RISING relatively to the sea level because we are still recovering from the last ice age (the heavy ice sheets pushed the land down and now it is still rebounding).
  • There is no indication that our major storms...cyclone-based winds (like the Columbus Day Storm)... will increase under global warming.  
  • Increased precipitation may produce more flooding, but that will be limited to river valleys and can be planned for with better river management and zoning.

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