Oregon's Rogue River Basin to Face Climate-Change Hurdles

Three major global climate-change projections scaled down to Oregon's Rogue River Basin point to hotter, drier summers with increasing wildfire risk, reduced snowpack, and rainier, stormy winters, according to a report coordinated by the University of Oregon's Climate Leadership Initiative and the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy.

Among the report's recommendations: a gradual relocation of structures and people from areas at most risk of flash flooding and wildfires and a call for governments, private firms, and households to prioritize and cooperatively pursue strategies and policies to prepare for the changes.

"Preparing for Climate Change in the Rogue River Basin of Southwest Oregon" is the first of four such reports that, authors say, represent the first such comprehensive scaling down of global models to specific river basins in the United States. The three models involved (Hadley, CSIRO, and MIROC) are used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific intergovernmental body established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme.

Many buildings and infrastructure in the Rogue basin are in floodplains, while many rural populations reside year-round in narrow and steeply sloped canyons. Storms and other climate stresses, the report concludes, could threaten millions of dollars in direct costs and five to 10 times that in indirect costs. There currently are a total of $21.5 billion in taxable properties in Josephine and Jackson counties alone, although not all are considered in harm's way.

At a policy level, the report urges governments to work with collaborative mindsets. It also will be important that climate preparation become a priority and that any proposed solutions also consider potential impacts on other sectors to ensure continued vitality for the region's population centers and economies. The report focuses on conditions projected for 2040 and 2080.

A copy of the full report is available at: http://tinyurl.com/5b7fre

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