John T. Abatzoglou, David E. Rupp, Philip W. Mote
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Behavior
Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Fire & Climate

NRFSN number: 15671
Record updated: May 31, 2018

Observed changes in climate of the U.S. Pacific Northwest since the early twentieth century were examined using four different datasets. Annual mean temperature increased by approximately 0.6°–0.8°C from 1901 to 2012, with corroborating indicators including a lengthened freeze-free season, increased temperature of the coldest night of the year, and increased growing-season potential evapotranspiration. Seasonal temperature trends over shorter time scales (<50 yr) were variable. Despite increased warming rates in most seasons over the last half century, nonsignificant cooling was observed during spring from 1980 to 2012. Observations show a long-term increase in spring precipitation; however, decreased summer and autumn precipitation and increased potential evapotranspiration have resulted in larger climatic water deficits over the past four decades. A bootstrapped multiple linear regression model was used to better resolve the temporal heterogeneity of seasonal temperature and precipitation trends and to apportion trends to internal climate variability, solar variability, volcanic aerosols, and anthropogenic forcing. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Pacific–North American pattern were the primary modulators of seasonal temperature trends on multidecadal time scales: solar and volcanic forcing were nonsignificant predictors and contributed weakly to observed trends. Anthropogenic forcing was a significant predictor of, and the leading contributor to, long-term warming; natural factors alone fail to explain the observed warming. Conversely, poor model skill for seasonal precipitation suggests that other factors need to be considered to understand the sources of seasonal precipitation trends.


Abatzoglou JT, Rupp DE, Mote PW. 2014. Seasonal climate variability and change in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Journal of Climate 27, p. 2125-2142.

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