BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
Effects of Climate Change on Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Activities

BPA project number   5501600

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
ICF Kaiser International, Inc.

Sponsor type   WA-Consultant

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameScott Seiler
 Mailing address601 Williams Blvd., 4th Floor, Richland, Washington 99352

BPA technical contact   , EWN

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   

Short description
Develop alternative climate forecast scenarios based on climate, hydrologic, and ecologic factors that could be used for fish and wildlife management. Three forecast scenarios will be developed: most likely, slow change (optimistic) and rapid change (pessimistic). Develop an integrated monitoring system to facilitate detection and analysis of ongoing climate-related changes.

Project start year   1997    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   1997

Project development phase   Planning, Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
The proposed study serves as an analytical tool which can be linked with and integrate actions cross many sectors of the Fish and Wildlife Program. Some of the related measures, and existing projects, are listed in Attachment A.

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications

Specific measureable objectives
· Identify critical resource management factors affected by climate change.

· Develop three forecast scenarios for critical factors, suitable for use across all program elements.

· Develop integrated monitoring strategy to collect indicators of change, and to monitor climate-related trends.

Testable hypothesis
The Fish and Wildlife Program must consider and adapt to climate-induced hydrologic and ecologic changes in order to be effective in the long term.

Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not testable in the short term; like other aspects of the climate change debate, it relies on projecting from empirical data on recent environmental change, and is subject to interpretation. The hypothesis is not subject to the same experimental design paradigm on which many of the other program elements are based, but rather is a program and resource management-oriented question.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
· As described under "Methods," most of the basic analytic tools used to project climate-induced environmental change attempt to simulate and predict interactions of some very complex phenomena. Accordingly, they incorporate considerable uncertainty, and they also provide fairly coarse geographic resolution in their predictions.

· Because there is considerable debate, it will be difficult to achieve consensus on a "most likely" forecast scenario. Developing rapid-change (i.e., pessimistic) and slow-change (i.e., optimistic) scenarios provides a means to bound the likely outcomes.

This project will include the following four tasks:

Task 1. Climate Change Research Synthesis.

Climate change is one of the most rapidly evolving areas of scientific inquiry today. In the initial task, we will collect and summarize information relevant to the NPPC's long-term salmon resource management strategy. This will include research and modeling results in the following fields:

· General Circulation Models. GCMs describe the large-scale interactions between greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the processes that control climate. These processes primarily involve the temperature gradients and currents in the atmosphere and oceans. Some models can even account for changes at a regional level. For example, models have been used to predict the effect of increased greenhouse gas concentrations and summer and winter temperatures, precipitation, and soil moisture.

· Warmer Temperatures. Temperature changes will have direct impacts on those salmon species that are most sensitive to temperatures and the impacts will vary depending on which part of the species lifecycle are limited by temperatures. The impacts will be most severe on those stages that are less adaptable. Impacts will also differ depending on whether temperature changes affect spawning habitats, nursery areas, or adult habitat.

· Increased Incidence of Drought. The increased incidence of climate-driven drought cycles could change the magnitude and timing of snow-melt-driven hydrologic cycles and suppress groundwater supplies to smaller streams and tributaries in the Pacific Northwest. Dramatic increases in the groundwater temperatures could result in the loss of spawning habitat and affect the development, date, mean weight, and survival of emerging embryos. Drought-induced increases in blight, insect damage, and erosion in the forests surrounding the Columbia and Snake Rivers would also facilitate increased siltation of spawning beds (PNL, 1990).

· Variations and Decreases in River Flow Rates. Warmer air temperatures will cause variations in the type, amount, timing, and intensity of precipitation (McDowall, 1992), which in turn will cause streams and rivers to have reduced and variable annual flow rates (PNL, 1990). Because salmon depend on river flow for migration as well as survival of eggs and fry, climate-induced reductions in flow rates would hinder the ability of juvenile and adult salmon to complete their annual migrations. Warmer water and reduced flow will also increase the energetic cost associated with river migration in warmer water (Henderson, et al., 1992) and the salmon’s exposure to predatory fish and birds (PNL, 1990).

· Loss of Local Habitat, Shifts in Regional Species Composition, and The Northward Migration of Salmon. As temperatures rise, salmon may seek cold refuges by moving to higher elevations, cool springs/ground water, or forested streams (McDowall, 1992). Because the southern boundary of salmon species is temperature dependant, it is probable that increases in temperature will move the southern boundary northward, leading to a decrease in commercially valuable local salmon populations (Henerdon, et al., 1992; Shuter and Meisner, 1992; Northcote, 1992; PNL, 1990).

· Increased Competition and Shifts in Food Supplies. Warming of the surface waters may lead to changes in the species structure, timing, and size composition of the salmon’s principal food supplies (i.e., phytoplankton and zooplankton communities) in both the ocean and river systems. If juvenile salmon are forced to feed on smaller prey, it will increase the energetic cost of food acquisition and ultimately reduce overall growth rates, despite the tendency for higher temperatures to increase growth rates (Henderson et. al., 1992; McDowall, et al., 1992; Shuter and Meisner, 1992). Increased temperatures may also cause fish to crowd into cooler waters, resulting in increased intraspecific and interspecific activities (i.e., aggression, competition for food and space, and predation) (McDowall, 1992).

· Decreased Dissolved Oxygen Concentrations. One of the most important effects of climate change on streams may be the reduction in dissolved oxygen concentrations due to the reduced solubility of gas at increased temperatures (Northcote, 1992). This will in turn change the location, composition, recruitment, and reproductive characteristics of anadromous fish populations (PNL, 1990).

· Increased Incidence of Disease, Bacteria, and Fungal Attacks. An increase in temperature could increase the incidence of disease, bacteria, and fungal attacks in adult salmon and juvenile salmon, inhibiting spawning and rendering juvenile salmon unprepared for marine life when the freshet (peak flow) comes to transport them to the sea (Henderson, et al., 1990: PNL, 1990).

· Oceanic Effects. Temperature change may also affect the areas of convergences and upwellings at sea, altering marine productivity, and thereby the growth and survival of animals that live there, including salmon which do much of their feeding and growth at sea. Specifically, El Nino events occur when there is a shift from a dominant North Pacific current and the associated inshore upwelling of cold nutrient rich waters to the El Nino-associated warmer current up
from the south. This warmer current supports much less of the salmons' food (i.e., microfauna) and significantly more warm water predatory fish species (PNL, 1990). El Nino events have already been blamed for low marine productivity, reduced abundance of forage organisms, and poor growth and survival of salmon (McDowall, 1992).

All of these factors are representative of the very complex interactions that must be taken into account to assess the potential impact of climate change on salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

We will review the literature and use our knowledge of recent developments in the climate change field to identify relevant information. The product of this task will be a summary, organized by topic, of relevant information.

Task 2. Identify CRBFW Program Measures Potentially Affected by Climate-related Changes

The CRBFW Program is one of the most comprehensive environmental resource management programs ever developed. Dozens of program elements involve research and analysis that will ultimately lead to resource management decisions on specific measures to enhance populations of salmon, Kootenai River white sturgeon, and other species. This task involves a review of all decision points in the CRBFW Program that should consider, or are likely to be influenced by, changes in the environmental factors identified in task 1. The product of this task will be a description of the decision points, the climate-related environmental factors which should be considered, and the degree to which they are likely to be sensitive to climate-related changes. The set of environmental factors driving decisions will be the focus of the remaining tasks.

Task 3. Develop Climate Change Forecast Scenarios.

In this task, we will develop three climate change forecast scenarios through 2050. To address the uncertainty inherent in making predictions, these scenarios will provide three different forecasts: a most likely scenario, a rapid-change scenario, and a slow-change scenario. These scenarios will describe most likely effects in mean air temperature, as well as the environmental factors identified as being most important in Task 2. The forecasts will use methods appropriate for projecting each factor; we anticipate that several different predictive methodologies will need to be used, depending on how much detail is available from existing research (as reviewed in Task 1).

The product of this task will be a summary report, describing forecasting methods; three forecast scenarios; and general implications of climate-induced changes on the CRBFW Program in the long term. These scenarios can be used as the research results of other program elements are completed, and as decision makers evaluate the utility of different management options.

Task 4. Develop Long Term Monitoring Strategy

The CRBFW Program has an extensive and diverse monitoring effort underway. Many of the parameters currently analyzed will be useful in (1) determining if climate-related change is indeed occurring and (2) determining trends in the key environmental factors identified in task 2. In this task, we will develop a long-term monitoring strategy to integrate the climate change-relevant data collection efforts already underway, and to propose additional parameters that should be monitored.

As part of this effort, we will review ongoing monitoring efforts, identify those that are most relevant to climate-related factors, review existing information management plans, and propose how to best coordinate climate-related data collection and analysis. The product of this task will be a report addressing these topics, and outlining the long-term monitoring strategy, focussing on the environmental factors identified in task 2.

Brief schedule of activities
Scheduled Completion
Task (months after project start)

1 3 months
2 5 months
3 10 months
4 12 months

Biological need
Long term climate change research and monitoring are necessary if the Program efforts to maintain and enhance the salmon fisheries in the Columbia and Snake basins are to be successful. Salmon depend on the streams and rivers at every stage in their lifecycle, including the reproductive migration of adults, spawning, early development and emergence, juvenile migration, and juvenile to adult residence in some species or populations (Northcote, 1992). Temperature is probably the most important environmental determinant of the salmon life history. Salmon species have synchronized events in their life history with the temperature regimes of the rivers and lakes they encounter (Shuter and Meisner, 1992; Burger, et al., 1985). As a result, most of the behavioral and ecological traits they exhibit are genetically encoded and stock specific (Miller and Brannon, 1982). The rapid increase in temperature and other climate-related factors anticipated over the next 50 to 150 years will almost certainly tax the ability of salmon species to respond on a genetic basis, and thus it is urgent to understand the likely effects of climate change.

Critical uncertainties
This project basically addresses an area of uncertainty in the remainder of the Fish and Wildlife Program. Though there is widespread belief that climate change has and will continue to occur, there are many uncertainties, including the nature and extent of future climate change at any given location. What impact such climate changes will have on human and other biological communities, including fish and fisheries, is even more difficult to predict. However, because it is more likely than not that the climate over the next century will be different from the current climate, it is reasonable to assess and consider the consequences of climate change at both global and regional levels.

A number of currently available models can assist in predicting the effects of climate change on salmon in the Columbia and Snake River systems. However, the diverse topography and climate of the region adds to the difficulty, complexity, and uncertainty in conducting accurate local predictions. With the extent and variability in environmental change now being predicted, it is quite obvious that salmon management policies will have to become more opportunistic, adaptive, and experimental in order to effectively respond to the challenges that will be faced in the early part of the next century (Northcote, 1992).

Summary of expected outcome
The hydrologic and ecological effects of climate change on salmon fisheries which will be identified and evaluated by the proposed project will provide answers and insight to a broad scope of issues addressed in both the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and Biological Opinions. Specifically, it will complement research and monitoring efforts on environmental impacts and life cycle requirements of salmonids. This information is critical to future resource management and decision making.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Integration of the climate change scenarios into the project prioritization and funding process is a critical interdependency. The schedule of tasks to develop this model will need to be lined up with the program development cycle.

Some risk is associated with the inherent uncertainties of climate predictions. This risk will be mitigated by the analysis of potential ranges in three scenarios.

Monitoring activity
· The proposed climate scenarios will be reviewed for concurrence by the Fish and Wildlife Authorities.
· Projected versus actual climate conditions will be tracked to assess and manage accuracy and risks.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 150,000
1998: 100,000
1999: 100,000
2000: 100,000
2001: 100,000

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   System Policy

Recommendation    Tier 3 - do not fund