Hydrologic Implications of Climate Change for the Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River Basin

Water is key to life, especially in the Pacific Northwest and Columbia River Basin area, and climate change will have hydrological impacts that require diverse adaptation approaches.


Alan F. Hamlet


Producer - Michael Furniss
Videography - Pat McAbery
Technical production - Jeffrey Guntle

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Ways that climate change can affect water include changes in water quantity and timing (reductions in summer flow and water supply, increase in drought frequency and severity, changes in hydrologic extremes (flood risk, summer low flows, groundwater supplies), changes in water quality (increasing temperature, sediment and nutrient loading), changes in land cover via disturbance (forest fire, insects, disease, invasive species) changes in the energy sector (hydropower and energy demand), changes in outdoor recreation, and changes in environmental impacts and services (fish and wildlife management, habitat protection and restoration, forest management, forest roads, species distribution and viability, and fire suppression).

You should gain an understanding of:

Global climate change scenarios and hydrologic impacts in the Pacific Northwest.

Approaches to adaptation including: 1) anticipating change, 2) using scenario planning not historic records, 3) expecting surprises and 4) planning for long haul.