Climate strongly affects energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Washington State (WA). We evaluate potential changes in the seasonality and annual amount of PNW hydropower production and changes in energy demand in a warming climate by linking simulated streamflow scenarios produced by a hydrology model to a simulation model of the Columbia River hydro system. Energy demand, and potential changes therein, are assessed estimates of heating degree days (HDD) and cooling degree days (CDD) for both the 20th century climate and projections of climate in three future periods (2010-2039, 2030-2059, and 2070-2099) and two emissions scenarios (IPCC A1B and B1). The gridded HDD and CDD values are then combined with population projections to create energy demand indices that respond both to climate, future population, and changes in air conditioning market penetration. We find that substantial changes in the amount and seasonality of energy supply and demand in the PNW are likely to occur over the next century in response to warming, precipitation changes, and population growth. In the 2020s, regional hydropower production increases by 0.5-4% in winter, decreases by 9-11% in summer, with annual reductions of 1-4%. Slightly larger increases in winter, and summer decreases, are projected for the 2040s and 2080s. In the absence of warming, population growth is projected to result in considerable increases in heating energy demand, however, the combined effects of warming and population growth are projected to result in net increases that are approximately one-half those associated with population growth alone. On the other hand, population growth combined with warming greatly increases the projected demand for cooling energy, notwithstanding that by the 2080s, total cooling energy requirements will still be substantially lower than heating energy demand.
Global climate models do not have sufficient spatial resolution to represent the atmospheric and land surface processes that determine the unique regional heterogeneity of the climate of the State of Washington. If future large-scale weather patterns interact differently with the local terrain and coastlines than current weather patterns, local changes in temperature and precipitation could be quite different from the coarse-scale changes projected by global models. Regional climate models explicitly simulate the interactions between the large-scale weather patterns simulated by a global model and the local terrain. We have performed two 100-year climate simulations using the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). One simulation is forced by the NCAR Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) and the second is forced by a simulation of the Max Plank Institute, Hamburg, global model(ECHAM5). The mesoscale simulations produce regional changes in snow cover, cloudiness, and circulation patterns associated with interactions between the large-scale climate change and the regional topography and land-water contrasts. These changes substantially alter the temperature and precipitation trends over the region relative to the global model result or statistical down scaling. To illustrate this effect, we analyze the changes from the current climate (1970-1999) to the mid 21st century (2030-2059). Changes in seasonal-mean temperature, precipitation, and snowpack are presented. Several climatological indices of extreme daily weather are also presented: precipitation intensity, fraction of precipitation occurring in extreme daily events, heat wave frequency, growing season length, and frequency of warm nights. Despite somewhat different changes in seasonal precipitation and temperature from the two regional simulations, consistent results for changes in snowpack and extreme precipitation are found in both simulations.
This paper reviews and ranks major proposed energy-related solutions to global warming, air pollution mortality, and energy security while considering impacts of the solutions on water supply, land use, wildlife, resource availability, reliability, thermal pollution, water pollution, nuclear proliferation, and under-nutrition. To place electricity and liquid fuel options on an equal footing, twelve combination of energy sources and vehicle type were considered. The overall rankings of the combination (from highest to lowest) were (1) wind-powered battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), (2) wind-powered hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, (3) concentrated-solar powered-BEVs, (4) geothermal-powered-BEVs, (5) tidal-powered-BEVs, (6) solar photovoltaic-powered-BEVs, (7) wave-powered-BEVs, (8) hydroelectric-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) nuclear-powered-BEVs, (9-tie) coal-with-carbon-capture-powered-BEVs, (11) corn-E85 vehicles, and (12) cellulosic-E85 vehicles.