Nav: Home

Melting glaciers will challenge some salmon populations and benefit others

March 11, 2020

A new Simon Fraser University-led study looking at the effects that glacier retreat will have on western North American Pacific salmon predicts that while some salmon populations may struggle, others may benefit.

The research, published today in the journal BioScience, examined the multiple ways in which salmon might be affected by climate-change driven glacier retreat over the coming decades. The researchers predict that in southern watersheds the loss of cold glacier meltwater during summer months could lead to low water flows and warmer water temperatures, both challenges for adult and young salmon.

However, in more northern watersheds, glacier retreat may create new salmon habitat.

Eighty-five per cent of major salmon watersheds or regions in western North America currently have at least some glacier coverage. Glaciers in this region are expected to lose up to eighty per cent of their ice volume by the year 2100, with significant implications for salmon habitat availability, water flows, and water temperatures.

SFU PhD candidate Kara Pitman, the study's lead author, says, "In regions where the landscape is still dominated by glaciers, such as in south-central Alaska, massive glaciers are currently peeling back from low-lying valleys, creating new rivers and lakes that young salmon can use as they develop," Pitman says.

"Salmon evolved over millennia in rivers that were dynamic and ever-changing," she says. "If given enough time, salmon are well-adapted to cope with the landscape changes associated with glacier retreat."

Unfortunately, dwindling glacier ice is just one of many sources of rapid change in salmon ecosystems. The authors caution that glacier retreat is adding one more pressure on salmon systems that are already stressed by climate change, habitat destruction, and hatchery practices that erode salmon biodiversity.

SFU professor and co-author Jonathan Moore says this study highlights the need for forward-looking perspectives on salmon conservation and management. "In this era of rapid global change, there is an urgent need to protect and manage for the future of salmon and their ecosystems, not just the present," Moore says.
-end-
CONTACT:

Jonathan Moore, Department of Biological Sciences, 778.782.9246; jwmoore@sfu.ca
Kara Pitman, Department of Biological Sciences, 604.892.4614; karapitman@gmail.com
Braden McMillan, Communications and Marketing, 236.880.3459; bradenm@sfu.ca

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada's engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today's problems. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities - Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey - SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

Simon Fraser University

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Sound And Silence
Sound surrounds us, from cacophony even to silence. But depending on how we hear, the world can be a different auditory experience for each of us. This hour, TED speakers explore the science of sound. Guests on the show include NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth, writer Rebecca Knill, and sound designer Dallas Taylor.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven't always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.