, Volume 120, Issue 3, pp 627-641,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Changing streamflow on Columbia basin tribal lands—climate change and salmon

Abstract

Over the last 100 years, linear trends of tributary streamflow have changed on Columbia River Basin tribal reservations and historical lands ceded by tribes in treaties with the United States. Analysis of independent flow measures (Seasonal Flow Fraction, Center Timing, Spring Flow Onset, High Flow, Low Flow) using the Student t test and Mann-Kendall trend test suggests evidence for climate change trends for many of the 32 study basins. The trends exist despite interannual climate variability driven by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The average April—July flow volume declined by 16 %. The median runoff volume date has moved earlier by 5.8 days. The Spring Flow Onset date has shifted earlier by 5.7 days. The trend of the flow standard deviation (i.e., weather variability) increased 3 % to 11 %. The 100-year November floods increased 49 %. The mid-Columbia 7Q10 low flows have decreased by 5 % to 38 %. Continuation of these climatic and hydrological trends may seriously challenge the future of salmon, their critical habitats, and the tribal peoples who depend upon these resources for their traditional livelihood, subsistence, and ceremonial purposes.

This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences, and Actions” edited by Julie Koppel Maldonado, Rajul E. Pandya, and Benedict J. Colombi.