Climate Change photo identifier

Climate Change

Climate Change: Disrupting our Economy, Environment and Communities

Reduced Snow Pack and Earlier Runoff

Reduced snow pack - Warmer temperatures mean more precipitation will fall as rain, not snow, and more snow will melt earlier in the spring.

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Receding glaciers - Much of Washington's water supply is stored in snow pack and glaciers that melt into rivers. As this stored snow and ice recedes up to higher elevations in the mountains, less will be available to feed rivers.

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Lower summer stream flows - Climate change from global warming affects the Northwest with recurring drought seasons. Multiple droughts since 1971 resulted in dry streams, withered and abandoned crops, dead fish, record low rives and declining groundwater levels.

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More photos: Dry reservoirs | Dry creeks Western WA | Dry creeks Eastern WA

Salmon declines - Salmon, trout and many other fish historically rely on timely, abundant, cold, clean water to spawn and rear young. Projected climate change would increase stream-scouring fall and winter floods and as peak river flows shift to earlier in the spring, salmon rearing, migration and spawning are adversely affected.

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More photos: Dry salmon runs | Salmon eggs | Reduced salmon populations

Lower groundwater tables - Early snowmelt and reduced late-summer stream flows affect aquifer recharge for underground water supplies. More rain in winter could cause more stormwater runoff instead of slow recharge.

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Hydropower loss - Higher, earlier winter peak-flows would increase electricity production during the winter/spring. But lower summer stream flows would decrease energy production in the summer when it is most needed.

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Recreational loss - As temperatures rise, winter precipitation will include more rain and less snow. Over 40% of the snow sport visits in Washington over the last 10 years have been to the low elevation ski areas which are most likely to be affected by climate change.

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More water pollution - More precipitation falling as rain rather than snow quickly runs off the land, especially over impermeable or paved areas, and areas devoid of forest or natural vegetation.

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More photos: Storm drains |