The new U.S. climate change impacts report — on which we’ve been reporting all day — includes some hard-hitting regional data.

For example, did you know that annual average temperatures in the Northwest rose about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century — with some areas seeing increases up to 4 degrees? And the rising mercury ain’t slowing any time soon: average temps are predicted to rise another 3-10 degrees in this century.

That may not sound too bad to those of us craving some summer warmth. But it’s scary news if you’re a local salmon craving cold water — or a ski bum craving cold snow, for that matter.

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How else will rising CO2 emissions (and rising temperatures) affect our region? Here are some highlights (low lights?) from the report:

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  • Declining springtime snowpack leads to reduced summer streamflows, straining water supplies.
  • Increased insect outbreaks, wildfires, and changing species composition in forests will pose challenges for ecosystems and the forest products industry.
  • Salmon and other coldwater species will experience additional stresses as a result of rising water temperatures and declining summer streamflows.
  • The projected reduction in snow cover will adversely affect winter recreation and the industries that rely upon it.
  • Sea-level rise along vulnerable coastlines will result in increased erosion and the loss of land. (See scary red image below.)

Map of sea-level rise in Puget SoundHighly populated coastal areas throughout Puget Sound, Wash., are vulnerable to sea-level rise. The maps show regions of Olympia and Harbor Island (both located in Puget Sound) that are likely to be lost to sea-level rise by the end of this century based on moderate and high estimates.


P.S. I’m focusing my anxiety on the Northwest regional data because, well, that’s where I live. But the news is bad all over … check it out for yourself.

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