Evaluating the vulnerability of Pacific salmon to effects of climate change in the Central Interior and identifying regional adaptation strategies

Across salmon watersheds in British Columbia we can expect a variety of adverse effects of climate change (increases in water temperature, reductions in summer low flows, etc). Currently, we have a broad scale understanding of future climate conditions (i.e., changes in air temperature and precipitation), yet lack the tools to translate this information into changes at the watershed scale. Moreover, we lack approaches for combining this information with existing land and water use data to help planners and managers develop strategies that will help human communities, salmon, and watersheds cope with future changes. Credible information about vulnerability and adaptation is critical so we know where to act, when to act, and how significantly to act, and thereby avoid wasting precious time, money, and human resources.

This project’s aim was to advance modeling of watershed vulnerability to climate change (via stream temperature and flow) and supplement this information with analyses of existing land and water use data to identify adaptation opportunities for regional planning and decision making. These efforts were successful at improving the credibility of vulnerability modeling and developing a pilot approach for identifying regional adaptation strategies. In particular, the project established:

(1) a strong technical foundation from which to understand vulnerability of salmon watersheds and identify opportunities for adaptation across the region; and

(2) linkages to local collaborators / users who are hungry for credible climate change information to improve current management and use it as a catalyst enhance the profile of aquatic resources in regional planning.