Abstract Title

Session S-07H: Assessing, Planning and Adapting to Climate Change Impacts in Skagit River Watershed

Keywords

Shorelines

Start Date

1-5-2014 3:30 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

Description

Future climate simulations based on the IPCC A1b and B2 emissions scenarios downscaled to the Pacific Northwest have shown that hydrology of Skagit River, the largest source of freshwater to Puget Sound, Washington, will be affected. However, due to site specific complexity, there is considerable uncertainty about the extent and magnitude of resulting estuarine impacts such as upstream propagation of salinity. This is of concern not only from potential impacts to coastal fisheries, but also because higher salinity could affect drinking water and agricultural water supplies. Similarly there is interest in understanding the distribution and export of freshwater out of Skagit River estuary and the availability of brackish habitat. To characterize the hydrodynamic response in this highly diked and altered environment to climate change stressors, we developed a high resolution hydrodynamic model of the system. Skagit River estuary was simulated using the finite volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) and included connections to Padilla Bay to the north and Saratoga Passage to the south. The model was setup by refining the Skagit-Padilla Bay sub-domain within the greater Puget Sound Georgia Basin or Salish Sea model. Salish Sea will also be affected by sea level rise and future freshwater loads over a larger scale and corresponding effects on the Skagit Basin ocean boundaries are included. The simulated salinity intrusion and gradients from future scenarios are compared with existing baseline conditions. Potential large scale changes to the seasonal net transport through the basin, north through Swinomish Channel to Padilla Bay in the winter or to the South through Saratoga Passage during the summer were examined through a series of sensitivity tests

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May 1st, 3:30 PM May 1st, 5:00 PM

Predicting the Effects of Sea Level Rise and Future Hydrology on Salinity Intrusion and Freshwater Export from the Skagit River Estuary

Room 607

Future climate simulations based on the IPCC A1b and B2 emissions scenarios downscaled to the Pacific Northwest have shown that hydrology of Skagit River, the largest source of freshwater to Puget Sound, Washington, will be affected. However, due to site specific complexity, there is considerable uncertainty about the extent and magnitude of resulting estuarine impacts such as upstream propagation of salinity. This is of concern not only from potential impacts to coastal fisheries, but also because higher salinity could affect drinking water and agricultural water supplies. Similarly there is interest in understanding the distribution and export of freshwater out of Skagit River estuary and the availability of brackish habitat. To characterize the hydrodynamic response in this highly diked and altered environment to climate change stressors, we developed a high resolution hydrodynamic model of the system. Skagit River estuary was simulated using the finite volume coastal ocean model (FVCOM) and included connections to Padilla Bay to the north and Saratoga Passage to the south. The model was setup by refining the Skagit-Padilla Bay sub-domain within the greater Puget Sound Georgia Basin or Salish Sea model. Salish Sea will also be affected by sea level rise and future freshwater loads over a larger scale and corresponding effects on the Skagit Basin ocean boundaries are included. The simulated salinity intrusion and gradients from future scenarios are compared with existing baseline conditions. Potential large scale changes to the seasonal net transport through the basin, north through Swinomish Channel to Padilla Bay in the winter or to the South through Saratoga Passage during the summer were examined through a series of sensitivity tests