Climatic variability in Eastern Oregon and Washington
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Climate is a driving factor in forest health and productivity that limits species survival and affects disturbance processes. Complex topography and mosaics of land cover compound the variability of climate in eastern Oregon and Washington, USA. The area is a transition zone between marine, arctic, and continental influences with associated extremes in weather. Such extremes affect insect populations, animal migration, stream flow, flooding, and wildfire potential. Additionally, human activities such as deforestation and atmospheric pollution interact with climate, and may cause changes similar in magnitude to the glacial-interglacial epoch in the next 50 to 100 years. Effects of anthropogenic climate changes are ambiguous, however, and could counter-balance each other. For example, tree populations may have more difficulty reestablishing, but growth rates could accelerate. Conversely, management actions can mitigate the effect of climate on fisheries, water resources, wildfire, and floods. Also, management actions can affect climate by modifying carbon exchange and water and energy exchange between land and atmosphere. Models are increasingly able to predict climate variability and trends in climate-related disturbances such as wildfire.