Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

The Pacific Northwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, a project undertaken by the University of Washington and other collaborators, provides information on the likely effects of climate change on species and ecosystems in the region. The assessment involves scientists, natural resource managers, and conservation planners, and covers an area that extends beyond the borders of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho both south into the U.S. and north into Canada. The assessment contains four main component projects including a sensitivity database, case studies, habitat suitability modeling, and species population modeling. These tools and improved data provides resource managers and decision makers with some of the most basic and most important information about how species and systems will likely respond to climate change.

The Climate Change Sensitivity Database summarizes the exposure and vulnerability of Pacific Northwest species and habitats to climate change, in order to facilitate analysis of potential effects of climate change at different landscape scales. The database provides sensitivity scores for species and habitats based on a variety of factors such as life history, habitat, and dispersal ability.

The two modeling components of the assessment – habitat suitability and species population modeling – involve producing maps to predict and visualize suitable habitat areas and key points for habitat connectivity under climate change scenarios. The case studies component of the vulnerability assessment seeks to inform management and planning by applying the results of findings from the assessment to the management of four landscapes in the region, with an emphasis on using data, models, and sensitivity information to develop adaptation strategies.

Other collaborators involved in developing the PNW Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment include the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Fish and Game, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, the University of Idaho, and the Great Northern and North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.

Publication Date: September 2012

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  • Assessment

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Impacts:

  • Wildfires

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