Research Projects

OSU/OCCRI Selected As Lead Institution for Northwest RISA
Regional Climate Prediction
Climate Leadership Initiative
Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC)
Climate Change and Estuaries

Northwest RISA

Oregon State University has received a five-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish and coordinate a regional consortium of climate variability assessment, research and outreach. The funding, which could surpass $3.5 million, will establish the Pacific Northwest Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) – one of six new regional integrated sciences and assessments (RISA) programs funded by NOAA.

OSU researchers will work with colleagues from the University of Oregon, Boise State University, University of Idaho, and University of Washington – as well as the extension programs from Oregon, Washington and Idaho – to address climate assessment needs for businesses, state and federal agencies, municipalities, tribal leaders and non-governmental organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

“This new consortium will advance the ability of agencies and businesses to envision future climate and to make sound business decisions and resource management decisions based on scientific assessments,” said Philip Mote, a professor of atmospheric sciences at OSU and director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute on campus.

Read more in the OSU press release and/or at the NOAA RISA page.

Regional Climate Prediction

OCCRI is coordinating a new approach to regional climate modeling: asking volunteers to donate computer time to generate thousands of simulations, providing unprecedented spatial and statistical detail. The Regional Climate Prediction project has recently been released to the public. For more information, see or email us.

Climate Leadership Initiative

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute worked with the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon to provide scenarios of future climate for the Lower Willamette Valley for their Climate Futures workshops. These workshops are held in the Portland Metro and the mid-Valley (Polk, Marion, Yamhill, Benton and Linn Counties) to educate citizens about the impacts of climate change in their areas. OCCRI provided maps of future anticipated changes in temperature and precipitation These products were created for the 2040 and 2080 time periods using a delta (change in temperature and precipitation) calculated for the Pacific Northwest from three General Circulation Models (CSIRO, HadCM, PCM) for the Pacific Northwest by Mote and Salathe (2009). This delta was applied to 800m PRISM data.

Other products include:

  • streamflow using VIC outputs for the Columbia Basin (produced by the Climate Impacts Group at University of Washington) at selected gages in the Willamette Basin
  • maps of April 1 Ensemble Mean Snow Water Equivalent from PRMS (produced by Portland State University)
  • maps and graphs of area burned (both historical and projected) using output from the MC1 biogeographical model
  • maps and graphs of vegetation types (both historical and projected) using output from the MC1 biogeographical model

OCCRI will be providing these products for future workshops in the Deschutes Basin.


OCCRI will be providing a preliminary assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities climate change poses to the surface transportation infrastructure system in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. OCCRI will:

  • synthesize data needed to characterize the region – such as its physiography and hydrology, land use, past and projected climate, current population and growth trends, and multimodal surface transportation infrastructure;
  • identify critical infrastructure and transportation operations vulnerable to climate change impacts; and
  • provide recommendations for more detailed analysis and research needs as appropriate to support the management of risks and opportunities to adapt multimodal surface transportation infrastructure to climate change impacts.

OCCRI will also develop the base case for Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and characterize current conditions and trends. The information will be used to inform the decision making process regarding transportation infrastructure. This research will address:

  • Increases in temperature extremes and durations of heat waves;
  • Increase in Arctic temperatures, effects on permafrost, and freeze/thaw events;
  • Rising sea levels;
  • Increases in intense precipitations events; and
  • Increases in storm intensity.

OCCRI will collect and analyze trends and projected changes in climate, weather and geophysical variables.

Climate Change and Estuaries

Using data from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP), OCCRI will assist the USGS and EPA in modeling the effects of climate change on estuaries in the Pacific Northwest. NARCCAP provides data parameters on a 50km grid, thus providing greatly improved resolution as compared to using General Circulation Model (GCM) parameters.

OCCRI will also review the analysis of sea level rise in Mote et al. 2008 and consider the same factors for the Oregon Coast. This includes contributions from global sea level rise, local atmospheric dynamics and local vertical land movements. The estimates for central/southern Oregon will be adjusted by contributions from atmospheric dynamics and vertical land movements based on local estimates of tectonic movement (Verdonk 2006).