Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UW climatologists make bleak predictions regarding future snowpack

In recently published research UW climate scientists estimate that with every 1 degree celcius of climate warming April 1st snowpack will be reduced by 20%. Most scientists estimate that our region will experience between 2 and 5 degrees of warming over the next century meaning there is a very high likelihood that the hydrology of our river systems will change dramatically. While the research may appear alarming we can hope that the diversity and adaptability of our salmon, steelhead and other aquatic organisms will allow them to cope with the coming changes. See a summary of the work at the columbia basin bulletin.


Schuyler Dunphy said...

As you suggest, these predictions often frighten conservationists and rightly so. If we allowed wild fish to operate as natural selection does outside of human interactions I think there would be plenty of opportunity for adaptation to a changing climate. What concerns me most is how fisheries management often stifles diversity. For example, many hatchery programs for winter steelhead are early timed which means heavy terminal fisheries often harvest a disproportionate number of early run fish. While we can't say for sure if early run fish will have an adaptive advantage we are certainly precluding the opportunity for directional selection to push to earlier timed fish. Other examples of management practices that limit diversity abound.


"While the research may appear alarming we can hope that the diversity and adaptability of our salmon, steelhead and other aquatic organisms"

For the speed of current climate change. There is certainly no way those cold water fish are can adapted to this harsh environments. Physiology constraint is a very conservative traits in animals. Either move to higher altitudes or die. This is just a sad fact has been observed over different high altitude organisms from plant to mammals. Needless to say the degrading of the habitat and the anthropological impacts that increase the disease and parasite spreading.

To my knowledge, the idea of eliminate hatchery program is because artificial protection in the early fry stage won't do any good to the population and also have detrimental effects on the genetic integrity. But for the degrading environmental factors like temperature and silt... there is no (adaptation) hope for every fish unless we slow down the heat and the dirty water. Just my opinion for your reference.