Case: Impacts of Global Climate Change on Tribes in Washington (Part II)

Summary

This is a clicker case is the second of a two-part series that is an introduction to potential impacts of Global Climate change on the of the Tribal Lands in Washington State.

It specifically explains the changes in the life cycle of the salmon. Salmon have been integral part of the Native American people in the region for thousands of years. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) has played a huge role in the analysis of data, along with the restoration and building of habitat for the salmon. They have also taken a leading role in restoration projects throughout the Salish Sea. This case study also discusses the massive degradation of salmon habit and steps being taken to restore salmon habitat and aid the salmon through all steps of their life cycle. The case study explains effects of Global Climate changes on salmon including, the rise in air and water temperature, the impact of altered precipitation levels, and the impact of altered streams, just to name a few. The case study also uses predictions for the University of Washington to show what could happen to the Puget Sound region in the future if steps are not taken to prevent Global Climate Change. If steps are not taken to prevent this Global Climate change in the future the effects on the salmon and the resources around it could be devastating.

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Learning Goals

  • Understand that there is clear scientific evidence that humans are significantly affecting the Earth's climate.
  • Understand the current data trends in winter snowpack accumulation, stream water temperatures, and in spring runoff dates.
  • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are that stream temperatures will rise above historical values in the twentieth-century.
  • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are for decreased snowpack in the Cascade Mountains.
  • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are increased rainfall during the winter season, along with decreased rainfall during the summer season.
  • Understand that this decreased summer stream flow will exacerbate the stream water temperature rise due to increased air temperatures.
  • Understand that increased rain during the winter will result in increased flooding of streams and rivers, with the related impact on salmon eggs deposited in redds in stream gravels.
  • Be able to describe the impacts of climate change on the different stages of the salmon life cycle.

Description and Teaching Materials

Teaching Notes and Tips

Issues/Topics Case Includes:

  • This case is the second of a two-part series that was designed for each part to be completed within a fifty-minute class period. It was designed to raise awareness of the threats to coastal and Puget Sound Tribes that have land adjacent to these bodies of water, and depend on the salmon whose life cycle is so connected with the rivers and streams that flow into Puget Sound and coastal regions. The case is based upon the scientific reality of global climate change, and the topics include the projected impact of climate change on the hydrological cycle in Washington State. These impacts will have a major impact on the salmon life cycle by making the rivers and streams less hospitable to the anadromous fish that have been in this region for thousands of years. The impacts on salmon will have direct effect on coastal and Puget Sound Tribesthat have interacted with salmon for thousands of years. The case is based upon research, field measurements and thinking of many local scientists in various state agencies, and in the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group http://cses.washington.edu/cig/ (accessed May 20, 2011). The conclusions of multiple scientists concur on the following points: (1) temperatures are rising throughout the Pacific Northwest, including stream temperatures, and increased water temperature is potentially fatal to salmonids; (2) winter seasons are apt to see more rain, with less snowfall in the mountains; (3) summer seasons are apt to see a dramatic decline in stream and river flow because of decreased summer precipitation, and decreased snowpack in the mountains; (4) flooding and scouring in streams during the winter season is likely to increase, with potential major impact on salmon redds; (5) the alteration of the existing hydrological cycle will affect salmon, agriculture, hydropower generation, and drinking water availability throughout the region. The need for Tribes to be paying attention to the potential impact of global climate change on salmon is obvious.

    Learning Objectives:

    Students will:

    • Understand that there is clear scientific evidence that humans are significantly affecting the Earth's climate.
    • Understand the current data trends in winter snowpack accumulation, stream water temperatures, and in spring runoff dates.
    • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are that stream temperatures will rise above historical values in the twentieth-century.
    • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are for decreased snowpack in the Cascade Mountains.
    • Understand that the hydrological projections for the remainder of the century are increased rainfall during the winter season, along with decreased rainfall during the summer season.
    • Understand that this decreased summer stream flow will exacerbate the stream water temperature rise due to increased air temperatures.
    • Understand that increased rain during the winter will result in increased flooding of streams and rivers, with the related impact on salmon eggs deposited in redds in stream gravels.
    • Be able to describe the impacts of climate change on the different stages of the salmon life cycle.
    • What is the scientific evidence that climate change is real?
    • What are the data trends from the twentieth-century to the present regarding stream water temperatures?; of dates of spring runoff?; of projected frequency of '20-year' floods?
    • What are the projections for the remainder of the twenty-first century regarding maximum weekly stream temperatures?; of winter snowpack?; of winter and summer precipitation?
    • What will be the potential effects of each of the above on the salmon cycle?
    • What are the potential effects of the disruption of the salmon life cycle on the Tribes in the region?
    • What steps might federal, state and local governments take to assist the Tribes to help offset warmer stream water temperatures in the summer?
    • What steps might federal, state and local governments take to assist the Tribes to help offset increased flooding during the winter?
    • If humans are causing much of the global warming that we are observing, what should humans be doing to reduce their greenhouse gas production?
    • What measures can the Tribes take to educate the rest of society about the threats to the salmon life cycle that climate change poses?
    • Which species are most likely to be adversely affected by the projected warmer stream water temperatures in late summer? Explain in detail.
    • Which species are most likely to be adversely affected by increased stream flooding during the winter season? Explain in detail.

Assessment

Assessment is at the discretion of the educator and how this resource is applied. Discussion questions are included.

References and Resources

Excellent documents regarding climate change in general, and the potential effects on the hydrology of streams and rivers in Washington in particular, can be found at the website of the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington https://cig.uw.edu/ (accessed May 20, 2011). Information, research results, and data bases are constantly changing, and this site, along with the IPCC site (IPCC 2007, below) are among the most credible. The website of the northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, http://nwifc.org/ , is excellent. Also listed are two very fine books describing many features of the salmon life cycle.

Bell 1996, Pacific Salmon: From Egg to Exit, Gordon Bell, Hanncock House Publishers, 1996,

ISBN 0-88839-379-2

IPCC 2007, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007 – Synthesis Report, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), http://www.ipcc.ch/ (more info) (accessed May 22, 2011)

Quinn 2005, The Behavior and Ecology of Pacific Salmon and Trout, Thomas P. Quinn, University of Washington Press, 2005, ISBN 0-295-98457-0

Wolf & Zuckerman 1999, Salmon Nation, Edward C. Wolf and Seth Zuckerman, editors, Ecotrust 1999, ISBN 0-9676364-0-X The opening article, "Recalling Celilo," by Elizabeth Woody is excellent.

The following websites contain a wealth of information regarding Tribal actions to improve salmon habitat: