-- REPORT FOR AUGUST 2, 2016 --
INTRODUCTION: With weekly updates, The Hot Water Report 2016 tracks water temperatures, salmon survival and climate related developments in the Columbia-Snake River Basin this summer. The report is updated weekly - published here every Tuesday - from early July through September. Each week we will share the most recent temperature data from the Columbia-Snake Rivers, news stories on climate change and current conditions for rivers and fisheries, and share information on actions state and federal agencies and our communities can take to ensure safer, healthier rivers for salmon and steelhead. We will include first-person accounts from anglers, guides, scientists and citizens on the Columbia-Snake rivers this summer.
SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER SNAKE RIVER DAMS (4/1-7/24)
The graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Snake River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-8 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperatures at each of the four lower Snake River reservoirs since April 1. As one can see, this year's daily mean water temperatures are frequently considerably warmer than the average daily mean temperature collected over the last 1-8 years.
Notably, temperatures in the Lower Snake River appear to have leveled off in recent days. Temperatures in the Lower Granite Dam reservoir are the lowest - hovering around 66 degrees - while temperatures at Ice Harbor Dam reservoir temperatures are highest - hovering around 70 degrees.
SPRING-SUMMER 2016 WATER TEMPERATURES AT LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER DAMS (4/1-7/24)
This second graph above reflects water temperatures recorded in the lower Columbia River reservoirs. The blue-toned lines reflect the average daily mean temperatures in each of the four reservoirs collected in the last 1-20 years, beginning on April 1. The red-toned lines reflect the 2016 daily mean temperature at each of the four lower Columbia River reservoirs since April 1. Like the upper graph, this one also reflects consistently higher water temperatures so far this year, when compared to average daily mean temperature based on data collected over the last 1-20 years.
Notably, temperatures in the Lower Columbia River continue to rise in all four reservoirs with readings ranging between 70 and 72 degrees Farhenheit.
These two tables reflect the previous week's high water temperatures in each of the eight reservoirs created by the lower Snake and lower Columbia River dams. Between July 25 and 31, temperatures have exceeded 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 2 and 7 time in three of the four lower Snake River reservoirs. Temperatures in each of the lower Columbia River reservoirs have exceeded 68 degrees every day in all four reservoirs.
Overall in the lower Snake River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been reached or exceeded 14 times this past week and 56 times so far this summer.
In the lower Columbia River reservoirs, 68 degrees has been exceeded every day in all four reservoirs for a total of 28 times this past week and 87 times so far this summer.
Salmon and steelhead begin to suffer harmful effects when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer temperatures remain above 68 degrees and the farther the temperatures rise above 68 degrees, the more severe the effects, including: increased metabolism/increased energy usage, increased susceptibility to disease, reduced fecundity or reproductive potential, and/or death.
Temperature data included in these reports come from the USGS Current Conditions for Washington State. Graphs and tables were assembled by SOS Staff.
THIS WEEK ON THE RIVER: LESSONS FROM THE 2015 COLUMBIA-SNAKE HOT WATER SALMON KILL - From the desk of Pat Ford. August 1, 2016
In late spring and summer of 2015, an estimated 250,000 adult salmon died in the main-stem Columbia and Snake Rivers while trying to reach their home waters to spawn their next generation. The main cause was 70 days of sustained hot water in both rivers. Water temperatures at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor Dam on the lower Snake, hit 68 degrees F on June 24, rose quickly to 72-73 degrees for two weeks in early July, and did not fall below 68 degrees again at either dam until early September. (68F, or 20C, is the reference temperature – an aim, not a requirement – established by NOAA Fisheries to protect Columbia-Snake salmon and steelhead from the adverse effects of hot water.) Two other factors also contributed to the kill: a low 2014-15 snowpack that led to low 2015 runoff, and the dam-and-reservoir system whose baseline stresses to migrating salmon in both rivers exacerbated the hot water effects.
This major salmon kill has sparked wide concern among people who care about the salmon and health of the Columbia and Snake rivers. Spring and summer temperatures in both rivers have been rising for several decades now, and Northwest climate and salmon scientists expect the trend to continue as human-caused climate change pushes global air temperatures upward. In the wake of 2015, many Northwest people are asking with urgency, what can we do to help salmon successfully migrate climate change? What’s in our toolbox now, and what new tools can we add?
READ PAT'S ENTIRE ESSAY HERE.
LINKS TO 2016 HOT WATER REPORTS AND OTHER RESOURCES:
SELECT 2016 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
MEDIA: Reservoir Drawdown Could Spare Fish (Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 17, 2016)
MEDIA: Steps Taken To Cool Warming Lower Snake, Reduce Thermal Blocks As Large Basin Sockeye Return Heads Upstream (Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 1, 2016)
MEDIA: Columbia Basin Salmon/Hydro Managers Gear Up For Another Hot Summer: Will Sockeye Get Slammed Again? (Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 2016)
MEDIA: Middle Fork could regain role as salmon nursery (Idaho Mountain Express, May 27, 2016)
LAW: N.W.F et al v. N.M.F.S. - U.S. District Court Opinion rejecting the federal salmon plan for Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead (Note: The Court's lengthy discussion of climate change begins on page 86. May 4, 2016)
MEDIA: Last year’s heat wave doomed nearly all Okanogan sockeye salmon (Seattle Times, April 13, 2016)
REPORT: Data Request Drawing Down Lower Granite Reservoir to Better Meet Water Quality Standards for Temperature (Fish Passage Center, June 2016)
SELECT 2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
MEDIA: Preliminary 2015 Spring Juvenile Survival Estimates Through Snake/Columbia River Dams Dismal (Columbia Basin Bulletin, October 23, 2015)
MEDIA: Dead Salmon, climate change and Northwest dams (Seattle Times Guest Opinion, August 2, 2015)
MEDIA: Snowpack drought has salmon dying in overheated rivers (Seattle Times, July 25, 2015)
MEDIA: Biologists bring sockeye into Idaho on trucks to get them out of hot water (Idaho Statesman, July 2015)
REPORT: Restoring Wild Salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal (NW Energy Coalition, August 2015)
SELECT PRE-2015 MEDIA COVERAGE, REPORTS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS
REPORT: Bright Future: How to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving, and salmon swimming in the era of climate change (NW Energy Coalition, 2009)
REPORT: A Great Wave Rising: Solutions for Columbia and Snake River Fish in an Era of Climate Change (SOS, NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club, 2008)