By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties
Between the extreme heat and the very real fire danger, it’s not a good afternoon to be working in the woods. Rarely do I say I’d rather be in the office than in the field, but today is one of those days that I’m appreciating the air conditioning.
Since everyone is talking about the weather anyhow, it seems appropriate to share some reading material that relates to it, which you can enjoy in the comfort of whatever cool spot you’ve found today. Oregon Forests and Climate Change is the subject of a little writing project which a number of my Extension colleagues have taken on as a group.
Why this project? OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension strives to provide objective, science-based education to help forest owners succeed in forest stewardship. The growing body of climate science means that a basic understanding of climate and climate variability are needed to guide key aspects of stewardship of managed forests, such as:
- selecting appropriate tree species and types of forest,
- determining the timing of management actions such as planting and thinning,
- estimating rates of growth and productivity, and
- anticipating climatic stress and threats to forest health.
We realize there are still a lot of unknowns that go along with all this, so our intention is not to be prescriptive but rather to explore what some of the key issues might be. We’re learning as we go and sharing what we learn through a series of short articles. The first set of these stories are available to read now over on the Oregon Forests & Climate Change blog. To set the stage, we get some perspectives on the subject of climate change from a woodland owner who also happens to be a forest geneticist working in the timber industry.
The next three articles address some of the basic principles of climate science. One looks at Oregon’s weather and climate as we’ve experienced it in our lifetimes vs. what is projected for the future. The next uses snowfall at Crater Lake as an example, in analyzing long term trends vs. year-to-year fluctuations in our weather. Finally, we look at some of the underlying factors that create these fluctuations, such as the El Niño cycle we are in right now.
These articles lay the foundation for the next phase of our project, in which we’ll be exploring how our forests respond to climate variability, extremes, and long-term change, and how we as managers can respond in turn. Stay tuned over the next year or so as we continue.
Of course, climate change can be a loaded subject and discussions about the topic can quickly grow rather heated. (I could not resist that pun…) We will be staying above the fray and look objectively at what anticipated changes may – or may not – mean on the ground, here in Oregon. So grab another icy drink and click here for more.