Dungeness River (S. Smith/PNPTC)

Increasing temperatures will lead to less snowfall and more rainfall, changing the flow characteristics and water quality of western Washington’s river systems. With more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, winter streamflow is expected to increase and the lack of snowpack will reduce spring and summer flows. Furthermore, the reduction and eventual disappearance of glaciers will ultimately reduce summer stream flows in streams with glaciated headwaters although increased glacier melting may, in the short term, actually add to summer flows.

Water temperatures are also expected to increase which can have negative impacts on culturally and economically valuable fish species such as salmonids. Additional impacts such as increased sediment transport during winter months and changes in water chemistry with the increased temperatures are also expected to impact stream habitats and water availability.

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