Climate change is keynote topic at Oregon Academy of Sciences meeting

EUGENE, Ore. — (Feb. 13, 2014) — A panel of experts will discuss climate trends and their likely impacts on Oregon during a meeting Saturday, Feb. 22, of the Oregon Academy of Sciences (OAS) at the University of Oregon.

CO2 levels will be similar to those 16 million years ago in south Salem's hillsUO professors Daniel Gavin, Gregory Retallack and Edward Davis will discuss their study assessing local effects of the global rise of carbon dioxide levels. Their keynote presentation, which is open to the public, will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room 100 of Willamette Hall, 1371 E. 13th Ave.

Only registered participants may attend other events, including a continental breakfast, luncheon and lectures, of the OAS meetings. Onsite registration ($45 for members and $55 for non-members) will be available, beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Willamette Hall Atrium. Sessions begin at 8 a.m.

The climate study, "Oregon 2100: projected climatic and ecological changes," pulls together and summarizes a lot of recent climate-change research and makes predictions about Oregon's future based on paleontological data combined with computer-generated climate models.

"Oregon has an extensive fossil record from a period when carbon levels were as high as they're expected to be by 2100," said Retallack, co-director of the Condon Collection at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) and OAS program coordinator. "These records help to validate computer models and to paint a picture of what the future holds."

According to the study, Oregon will be spared searing heat and extensive loss of land due to rising sea levels, but will have problems of its own as softwood lumber retreats to higher elevations. Climate change is expected to bring agricultural shifts to the state, with Pinot noir grapevines replaced by Syrah and raisins in the west, and winter wheat and grassland spreading in the east.

Oregon is projected to be warmer by 7-9 degrees Fahrenheit and wetter by 2-9 inches, but it's expected to face seasonal droughts in late winter and summer. As the study notes, invasion by grasses into the sagebrush of eastern Oregon, and by broadleaf evergreen trees into western Oregon, has already begun and is projected to transform Oregon's landscapes by the century's end. The state's wildlife, say the authors, will increasingly depend on human management.

"Compared with surrounding states, Oregon will fare relatively well during ongoing climate change," Retallack said. "Our most pressing problems are likely to be political rather than environmental, because people will want to come here."

Retallack's research on fossil soils and plants provides a history of atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate over the past 45 million years. Gavin has published extensively on fossil pollen and charcoal, recording the past 20,000 years of vegetation and climate change in the Pacific Northwest. Davis has studied fossil mammals of the past 10 million years with a focus on future conservation efforts. The three UO researchers are among 10 co-authors of the study, which was supported by an award from the UO College of Arts and Sciences to Retallack and by funding from the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The 73rd annual OAS meeting will bring together scientists from around Oregon and other western states. A full day of sessions is planned and will cover a variety of disciplines. The meeting also will host a Junior Academy of Science and include a sneak peek of the MNCH's upcoming natural history exhibit "Explore Oregon!" at the museum, 1680 E. 15th Ave.

"Researchers at the University of Oregon are helping to foster a sustainable future for our planet and its people," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the UO Graduate School. "This study assessing the effects here in Oregon of the global rise of carbon dioxide levels furthers our understanding of global warming and may help us down the road by improving our response on a local level to environmental change."

The Oregon Academy of Science, formed in 1943, is an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The president of the OAS is the UO's Samantha Hopkins, assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and the Robert D. Clark Honors College.

About the Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The mission of the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History is to protect significant collections, enhance knowledge, and encourage stewardship of human and natural history through research, preservation, and education. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youths and seniors, and $10 for families. For more information call 541-346-3024.
 
Note: Copies of "Oregon 2100: projected climatic and ecological changes" are available by contacting Retallack at gregr@uoregon.edu or 541-346-4558.

Media Contact: Kristin Strommer, Museum of Natural and Cultural History, kstromme@uoregon.edu, 541-346-5083

Additional Links:
Museum of Natural and Cultural History: http://natural-history.uoregon.edu
Museum on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/oregonnaturalhistory

 

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CO2 levels will be similar to those 16 million years ago in south Salem's hills