13.2.1 Regional Patterns Across the U.S.
13.2.2 Climate change and reservoirs
13.3 Need for Gaging Stakeholder Importance
13.4 Disclosure of Who Decides
13.5 Stakeholders as Supporters
13.6 Reservoir Association Establishment
13.7 Reservoir Association Structure
13.8 Reservoir Association Projects
Apparent signs of climate change are perhaps the most defining environmental issue of this generation. The effects of climate change are increasingly evident, from melting glaciers and coastal flooding to drying lakes, torrential downpours, and expansions and contractions of species’ distributions (Melillo et al. 2014). These and other changes are bellwethers for what climate scientists anticipate will be dramatic impacts in decades to come (Maclean and Wilson 2011). The projected climate will profoundly affect our ability to conserve fish habitats and fish assemblages as we know them. Preparing for and coping with the effects of climate change is emerging as the overarching concern of aquatic resources conservation and management. Nevertheless, climate change is a slowly evolving and uncertain phenomenon. Unlike a major disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, the slow progression of climate change has not catalyzed decisive action in part due to societal difficulties dealing with programs that require huge investments upfront to avoid unknown risks in decades to come.
Reservoirs are important artificial structures for coping with anticipated temporal shifts in water supply (Christensen et al. 2004). Next to water storage, reservoirs provide seasonal refuge for some riverine species and support distinct fish assemblages that provide diverse recreational, commercial, and subsistence fisheries. The effects of climate change on reservoirs are unique among aquatic systems because reservoirs have specific habitat characteristics due to their terrestrial origin and strong linkage to catchments (Knoll et al. 2003). Unlike natural lakes, reservoirs tend to have large catchments and large tributaries because they were engineered to capture as much water as possible. This origin is manifested by relatively large inputs of inorganic and organic loads. Depositional filling effectively results in relatively rapid surface area and volume reductions, habitat fragmentation, loss of depth, and associated changes in water quality (Patton and Lyday 2008; Miranda and Krogman 2015). Unnatural water‐level fluctuations degrade shorelines that were once uplands and therefore maladapted to regular flooding, promoting erosion and ultimately homogenization of once diverse nearshore habitats (Miranda 2017). Well‐established riparian zones and floodplain wetlands that provide key ecological services to natural lakes and the original river are mostly missing in upland reservoirs. Lack of woody debris deposition, limited access to backwaters, and lack of seed banks and stable water levels that discourage native aquatic vegetation often produce barren littoral habitats. Because of their artificial origin, reservoirs reveal unique fish habitat problems that stand to be compounded by anticipated shifts in climate.
We review (1) the projected effects of climate change on reservoir fish habitats and (2) adaptation strategies that could help reduce, ameliorate, or otherwise cope with the anticipated effects of climate change on reservoir fish habitats. We have not assembled an exhaustive inventory. Instead, the effects we describe represent the most likely ones. The strategies we list are broad and general and represent a starting line applicable at the agency or regional level for developing creative alternatives relevant to local reservoirs and climate conditions.
13.2 The Shifting Climate
Global mean surface temperatures have been rising over the last two centuries, with mean land and ocean temperatures warming an average 0.9oC during 1880-2012 (Hartmann et al. 2013). Freshwater lotic systems have been exceptionally vulnerable to warming, with major rivers and streams in the U.S. warming at a rate of 0.1-0.8oC per decade (Kaushal et al. 2010). Lentic systems have also been warming and is most evident in colder latitudes where ice-breakup has on average occurred 7-d earlier and freezing 6-d later per century (Vincent 2009). Temperatures are predicted to continue to rise in the 21st century, although by 2020 the climate change signal may not be clearly distinguishable from the effect of natural long-term climatic variability.
Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) assessment models of climate change adopted by the IPCC (2019) anticipate global temperatures to increase by an average 1.1-2.6oC by late-century under the RCP4.5 model, and by 2.6-4.8oC under the RCP8.5 model. RCP models account for climate dynamics and real-world factors like population growth, environmental policy, and development of new technologies. There are four total RCP models used by the IPCC, and we selected two because they sufficiently cover the range of most probable scenarios. RCP4.5 represents a moderate effect and assumes a worldwide effort to reduce emissions by roughly 50% by the end of the 21st century via policy changes and technological developments, leading to CO2 emissions peaking mid-century and declining thereafter. RCP8.5 represents a high effect if there are no policy changes to reduce emissions, and only modest technological improvements and behavioral changes. These potential increases in temperature also affect precipitation and therefore the amount and timing of water that reaches reservoirs and water quality.
Substantial changes to the water cycle are expected as the planet warms because movement of water in the atmosphere and oceans is a primary mechanism for how heat is distributed around the planet. A warmer climate increases evaporation of water from land and sea and allows more moisture to be held in the atmosphere. Climate change is predicted to continue to alter the timing and quantity of global precipitation. Total precipitation in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere has been increasing since at least 1901 (Hartmann et al. 2013). In the U.S., drought length and frequency have decreased, except in the Southwest and interior West where they have increased (Andreadis and Lettenmaier 2006). Climate change is predicted to increase global precipitation, but precipitation will be concentrated over shorter periods (Collins et al. 2013). Generally, the result of these shifts will be an intensified hydrologic cycle of high-flow events and flooding interspersed with drought (Kirtman et al. 2013).
Climate predictions often have large uncertainty. Climate fluctuates due to internal variability (e.g., El Niño/Southern Oscillation) and external forces (e.g., volcanic eruptions) (Kirtman et al. 2013). Climate predictions are based upon reference and historical climatic conditions that incorporate these sources of internal and external variability to forecast future trends (e.g., RCP models). There are many factors that influence the outcomes of simulations, some of which may change over time and are difficult to predict, such as socioeconomic development of large countries that influence the extent of greenhouse gas emissions (Arnell and Hulme 2000). Small differences in the initial parameters of models can make big differences in predictions, sometimes leading to substantially different outcomes. In general, the projected changes in precipitation are less certain than those for temperature.
13.2.1 Regional Patterns Across the U.S.
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