Climate Change Impacts on Stream Temperatures in the Columbia River System

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:45 PM
John R Yearsley, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States and Lisa Crozier, NOAA Seattle, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA, United States
The Columbia River system, a drainage basin of 668,000 sq. km that includes the Columbia and Snake River rivers, supports a large population of anadromous, cold-water fishes. 13 species of these fishes are listed under the Endangered Species Act and are vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Bioenergetics models for these species have been developed by the federal agencies that operate the Federal Columbia River Power System. These models simulate the impacts on anadromous fishes as they move through the power system both upstream as adults and downstream as juveniles. Water temperature simulations required for input to the bioenergetics models were made for two different segments of the Columbia River system; one being the portions from the Canadian border to Bonneville Dam and the Snake River from Brownlee Dam in Idaho to its confluence and the other, the Salmon River basin in Idaho. Simulations were performed for the period 1928-1998 with the semi-Lagrangian stream temperature model, RBM, for existing conditions and for a two 2040 climate scenarios, a cool, dry condition (ECHO_g model) and a warm, wet condition (MIROC_3.2 model). Natural flows were simulated with the variable infiltration capacity model, VIC, and modified for Columbia River project operations using HYDSIM, a hydro system regulation model that simulates month-to-month operation of the Pacific Northwest hydropower system.