By Jason O’Brien, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension – Oregon Master Naturalist Program Coordinator

The media is buzzing with reports about fire, drought and extreme heat. And climate change is often attached to these stories. But does climate science explain how today’s extreme weather relates, if at all, to global climate change? This article will highlight some of these relationships.

First, let’s review definitions of weather, climate and climate change. Weather is the state of the atmosphere at a place and time that determines if it is hot, dry, sunny, rainy, windy, etc. Climate is the average weather condition (e.g. average temperature) over time. Climate change is a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. This could be a change in a region’s average annual rainfall, for example, or a change in a city’s average temperature for a given month or season. Under normal conditions, a range of weather conditions that deviate from averages (e.g. severe, extreme storms) can exist. Such extremes are not necessarily related to climate change.

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By Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Clackamas, Marion, & Hood River Counties

As a forester, I need a basic understanding of local climate to guide site-specific decisions –decisions like what species to grow and how many trees per acre to plant. With all the ongoing studies of climate change, I have been looking for practical information relevant to climate and trends affecting forests in Oregon. At an Extension Forestry conference in 2006 in Fairbanks, Alaska, I learned that increased temperatures over recent decades in Alaska had noticeably extended the growing season, melted permafrost, and exacerbated recent forest fires. This stimulated me to learn more about climate science related to my location in Oregon, where I had not really noticed any warming trends amidst the year to year variation in the weather.

How has the climate changed in Oregon? What are anticipated future changes? How might this affect forest management decisions? Continue reading

By Max Bennett, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Jackson & Josephine Counties

The term “climate variability” gets used a lot, but what does it mean? And how does climate variability relate to “climate trends” and “climate change”?

In this article we’ll look at climate variability and trends through the lens of long term snowfall at Crater Lake National Park, as well as precipitation and drought patterns in Medford, Oregon. As a forester working in southern Oregon, I’m very interested in rainfall, drought and snowpack, which influence things like fire danger, forest health, and stream flows. Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

In this series, our goal is to discuss how woodland owners and managers might want to think about the management decisions we make in light of anticipated climate change. To do that, we need to understand what’s potentially in store. What are the future climate projections for our region, and how do they differ from what we are accustomed to? What is the relationship between climate and weather? That’s what this article aims to address. Future articles will dive into how these changes might affect our forests, and how we can respond. Continue reading