changes that have occurred to Colombia River stream flow, article review help


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This article was downloaded by: [david jay] On: 19 October 2011, At: 08:59 Publisher: Taylor & Francis Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Hydrological Sciences Journal Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: Distinguishing human and climate influences on hydrological disturbance processes in the Columbia River, USA a David A. Jay & Pradeep K. Naik b a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, Oregon, 97207, USA b Directorate of Agricultural Engineering and Water Resources, Ministry of Municipality Affairs and Urban Planning, PO Box 31126, Kingdom of Bahrain Available online: 19 Oct 2011 To cite this article: David A. Jay & Pradeep K. Naik (2011): Distinguishing human and climate influences on hydrological disturbance processes in the Columbia River, USA, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56:7, 1186-1209 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material. 1186 Hydrological Sciences Journal – Journal des Sciences Hydrologiques, 56(7) 2011 Distinguishing human and climate influences on hydrological disturbance processes in the Columbia River, USA David A. Jay1 & Pradeep K. Naik2 1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, Oregon 97207, USA 2 Directorate of Agricultural Engineering and Water Resources, Ministry of Municipality Affairs and Urban Planning, PO Box 31126, Kingdom of Bahrain Downloaded by [david jay] at 08:59 19 October 2011 Received 2 April 2010; accepted 25 March 2011; open for discussion until 1 April 2012 Citation Jay, D. A. & Naik, P. K. (2011) Distinguishing human and climate influences on hydrological disturbance processes in the Columbia River, USA. Hydrol. Sci. J. 56(7), 1186–1209. Abstract This paper distinguishes human and climate influences on the Columbia River streamflow disturbance regime, examines how this disturbance regime has changed over the last 150 years, and discusses downstream impacts. Flow management and withdrawal have greatly curtailed exceedence of the natural bankfull level of ∼20 000 m3 s-1 . The frequency distribution of Columbia River flow has also changed. Sediment transport is positively correlated with streamflow standard deviation, and has been greatly reduced by flow regulation. Three kinds of spring freshet style have been identified; there are also three kinds of winter freshet. Flow regulation and regional climate warming have changed freshet styles and reduced maximum flows during the spring season. Downstream effects of hydrological alterations include increased salinity intrusion length, loss of shallow water habitat area during the freshet season, increased tides throughout most of the year, and a decrease in area of the Columbia River plume during spring and summer. Although climate changes and variations have played a substantial role in changing the hydrological disturbance regime, their influence is still less than that of human manipulation of the flow cycle. Key words sediment transport; climate impact; human impact; flow regulation; extreme events; irrigation depletion; salmon; freshet styles; climate change; Columbia River; USA Distinguer les influences humaines et climatiques dans les perturbations des processus hydrologiques dans le Fleuve Columbia, USA Résumé Ce document a pour objectif de distinguer les influences humaines et climatiques dans les perturbations du régime de débit du Fleuve Columbia, d’examiner comment ce régime perturbé a évolué au cours des 150 dernières années, et de discuter des impacts en aval. La gestion des écoulements et les pompages ont grandement réduit le seuil naturel de débordement qui est d’environ ∼20 000 m3 s-1 . La fréquence de distribution des débits du Fleuve Columbia a également changé. Le transport des sédiments est positivement corrélé avec l’écart standard des débits, et a été grandement réduit par la régulation du débit. Trois types de crues printanières et hivernales ont été identifiés. La régulation du débit et le réchauffement climatique régional ont changé le type de crue, et réduit la crue maximale au printemps. Les effets en aval des modifications hydrologiques incluent une augmentation de la durée de l’intrusion saline, la perte de surface d’habitat en eau peu profonde pendant la crue, l’augmentation de l’effet de marée presque toute l’année, et la diminution de la superficie du panache du Fleuve Columbia durant au printemps et en été. Bien que les changements et variations climatiques aient joué un rôle important dans la modification du régime hydrologique, leur influence est encore inférieure à celle des modifications d’origine humaine du cycle d’écoulement. Mots clefs transport des sédiments; impact climatique, impact humain; régulation du débit, événements extrêmes; tarissement de l’irrigation, saumon, type de crue; changement climatique; Fleuve Columbia, USA ISSN 0262-6667 print/ISSN 2150-3435 online © 2011 IAHS Press Human and climate influences on processes in the Columbia River Downloaded by [david jay] at 08:59 19 October 2011 1 INTRODUCTION This paper defines historical changes in the Columbia River streamflow, sediment transport disturbance regime and flow frequency distribution. It also identifies freshet styles, separates human and climate influences on these vital features, and defines downstream (estuarine and coastal) implications thereof. Such an analysis is a necessary basis for rational management of flow and sediment supply regimes for the system, especially with regard to salmon recovery, estuarine habitat and maintenance of navigation. Because salmonids traverse the system back and forth from the ocean to spawning grounds (high in the basin) twice during their life spans, and are strongly affected by disturbance processes in the system, they provide an impetus to develop a unified picture of changes to the hydrological disturbance regime. Consideration of downstream impacts is particularly important, because most of the changes described here have occurred in the interior of the basin, whereas many of the impacts thereof are occurring in the more heavily populated coastal portions of the system seaward of the dam and reservoir system. 1.1 Geographical and management context The Columbia River (Fig. 1) is the largest river on the Pacific Coast of North America and the fourth largest in the USA in terms of runoff (Kammerer 1990). It drains an area of 660 500 km2 , encompassing parts of two Canadian provinces and seven states of the USA (Fig. 1). The Cascade Mountains divide the Columbia River drainage basin into two parts: (1) a Western Sub-basin covering ∼8% of the drainage area with the Willamette River as the significant tributary, and (2) an Interior Sub-basin covering ∼92% of the total drainage east of the Cascade Range. The latter include the Snake, Kootenay and the Pend Oreille rivers as the principal drainages; 97% of the total Interior Sub-basin flow is measured at The Dalles. There is wide variability in the percentage flow from the various parts of the basin during the spring freshet and over the water year. The Western Subbasin is very wet and contributes about 24% of the total flow at the mouth. Most of the Western Sub-basin is at too low an elevation to accumulate a large seasonal snow pack, and the highest flows occur during the winter between December and March. In contrast, most of the flow in the Interior Sub-basin occurs as the result of melting of a seasonal snow pack between April and June. Much of the Interior Sub-basin is 1187 relatively arid, but the Canadian part of the Interior Sub-basin has a high runoff production per unit area. In high flow years, >50% of the streamflow at Dalles is derived from Canada from about 25% of the total surface area of the Interior Sub-basin. During the largest known freshet (1894), for example, the peak flow at Grand Coulee was ∼20 500 m3 s-1 relative to a maximum at The Dalles of 34 800 m3 s-1 and at Beaver of ∼39 400 m3 s-1 . The Canadian contribution to the spring freshet has been declining since 1970 due to the large residence time of the dams in Canada. These dams are very effective in changing the seasonality of the flow in the Upper Columbia, which in turn affects streamflow in the entire mainstem. In contrast, the Snake River is relatively dry, with ∼40% of the Interior Sub-basin surface area but only 30% of the total flow at The Dalles. Columbia River Basin hydrology has changed due to both human and climate influences (Sherwood et al. 1990, Hamlet and Lettenmaier 1999a, Miles et al. 2000, Naik and Jay 2005). Naik and Jay (2010, 2011) separated anthropogenic and climate impacts on the Columbia River mean flow and sediment transport regimes. We show here that direct human manipulation of river flow through flood control, water withdrawal and hydropower generation has been the largest single source of disturbance to the physical processes in the system. Still, climate fluctuations and other human activities, such as navigational development, diking and filling, and changes in land use (especially timber harvest), are individually important and interact with river flow manipulation. For example, diking and flow regulation are the primary factors affecting the availability of shallow water habitat area or SWHA (Kukulka and Jay 2003a, 2003b), but reduction of spring freshet flows due to flow regulation and climate change is also a factor. 1.2 Hydrological change and salmonids The Columbia River had until recently the world’s largest Chinook salmon runs. Several studies have been carried out in recent years to identify causes for the decline of the Columbia River salmon populations, identify impacts of hydrological change on salmonids and to suggest remedial measures (Chatters et al. 1995, Anderson 2000, Finney et al. 2000, Simenstad and Cordell 2000, Bottom et al. 2005, Naish et al. 2007, Crozier et al. 2008). Restoration of the system’s severely diminished runs will require better definition of changes in the hydrological variables important to salmonids, and identification of Downloaded by [david jay] at 08:59 19 October 2011 1188 David A. Jay & Pradeep K. Naik Fig. 1 Location map of the Columbia River basin. changes in the hydrological disturbance regime is clearly one component of this broader problem. The development, availability and quality of a SWHA in the estuary depend, for example, on the frequency and magnitude of hydrological disturbances to the river system. Habitat availability is a function of topography, river stage and the tidal regime, as well as human alterations to the fluvial system. For example, woody debris that helps to structure fluvial and estuarine environments is largely contributed by overbank flows (Wohl and Goode 2008). Moreover, the bulk of the sediment input to the system also occurs during highflow events; this is especially true for the input of sand that helps to build shallow water estuarine habitats. Therefore, we consider also extreme flows and catastrophic disturbances. The hydrological factors discussed here affect not only the river, but also the estuary and the coastal ocean. Moving in a seaward direction, the effects of hydrological alterations on the river are fairly well defined, those on the estuary are becoming clearer, and those on the coastal ocean quite uncertain. 2 DATA AND DATA PROCESSING 2.1 Climate parameters Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a long-lived pattern of Pacific climate variability (Zhang et al. 1997) defined in terms of sea-surface temperature (SST) in the central North Pacific and West Coast of the Americas. Warm PDO cycles are characterized Human and climate influences on processes in the Columbia River by anomalously cool SSTs in the interior North Pacific and warm SSTs along the Pacific Coast, and below average SLPs over the North Pacific (Mantua 2002). Cool PDO periods are the opposite. The PDO indices for the period 1901–2004 (http:// have been developed by Mantua et al. (1997). The years characterized by warm (+ve) or cold (–ve) PDO phases were distinguished on the basis of winter values (averaged October–March) of PDO indices. Downloaded by [david jay] at 08:59 19 October 2011 2.2 Streamflow Three types of streamflow estimates have been used in this study: (1) observed, (2) adjusted, and (3) virgin flows. All flows are examined by water year, extending from October to September. For example, water year 2001 extends from October 2000 to September 2001. 2.2.1 Observed flow Observed flows are flow records measured by instruments, and are available on a daily basis ( These records were obtained from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for the Columbia River at International Boundary (1938–2004), Spokane (1891–2004), Grand Coulee (1923, 1929–2004), Trinidad (1894–1963, peak flows only), Priest Rapids (1917–1924, 1926–2004), The Dalles (1878–2004) and Beaver (1968–1970, 1991–2004), for the Snake River at Clarkston (1915–1922, 1928–1973) and Ice Harbor (1912–1915, 1962–2000), and for the Willamette River at Albany (1878–1888 (gaps), 1892–2004), Salem (1909–1916, 1923–2004), and Portland (1972–2004). The gauge at The Dalles measures almost all of the ∼75% of the flow coming from the Interior Sub-basin. It has the longest period of daily record, June 1878 to date, of any river on the Pacific Coast of North America. Henshaw and Dean (1915) have given the maximum annual discharges for 1858–1878 determined from elevations at the present site of Bonneville. Annual average flow for 1858–1878 has been estimated on the basis of the linear regression of 1879–1899 annual mean flow vs 1879–1899 annual maximum (R2 > 0.77). Willamette is the largest river in the Western Sub-basin, and its flows at Portland have been routed from the flows at Albany and Salem (after 1909) for 1878–1971. The station for the Willamette River at Albany has the longest period of record since 1878, but the record is incomplete until 1893. Missing 1189 Albany flows for 1878–1893 were estimated by means of a flow vs precipitation model defined using 1894–1900 data. Streamflow at Beaver for the period 1878–1991 was routed based on daily records for Columbia River at The Dalles, the Willamette River at Portland and other available tributaries. Flow data for the mix of tributaries varied over time. Therefore, missing tributary data were modelled from nearby tributaries for which data were available. 2.2.2 Adjusted flow Adjusted flows have been corrected to eliminate the effects of flow regulation and reservoir manipulations, and are available on a monthly basis. Monthly adjusted flows were obtained for water years 1879–2004 from USGS for the station at The Dalles. The difference between the observed flow and the adjusted flow gives the streamflow modifications due to flow regulation and power generation in the upstream reservoirs. Estimates of the daily adjusted flows at The Dalles have been made following the methodology of Naik and Jay (2005). Data provided by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA 2004a, 2004b) allow storage adjustments for the Western Sub-basin after 1928. Daily and monthly adjusted flows for the Columbia River at Beaver have been estimated for the period 1878–2004; there were no significant storage reservoirs in the Western sub-basin before 1929. 2.2.3 Virgin flow Virgin flows represent the natural flows if there were no European settlements, and are available on monthly basis. They have been corrected both for flow regulation and irrigation depletion. Adjustments for irrigation diversion and return flows to convert monthly adjusted to monthly virgin flows for the Columbia River at The Dalles were obtained from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for the period 1929–2000. These virgin flow estimates eliminate all effects of development including flow regulation, reservoir manipulation, evaporation and irrigation depletion (USBR 1999). For the missing years, i.e. for the periods 1879–1928 and 2000–2004, monthly and daily virgin flows were estimated on the basis of monthly irrigation depletions, rainfall, adjusted flows, and observed flows at The Dalles (Naik and Jay 2002, 2005). The same methodology was used to estimate daily and monthly virgin flow (1878–2004) for the Willamette River at Portland and the Columbia River at Beaver based on irrigation depletion values given in BPA (2004a, 2004b). 1190 David A. Jay & Pradeep K. Naik Downloaded by [david jay] at 08:59 19 October 2011 2.3 Suspended particulate matter (SPM) transport Long-term sediment transport records are not available for the Columbia River. However, daily SPM (total load) discharges at Vancouver for the period 1963–1969 were obtained from USGS ( Long-term daily SPM transport (total load) of the Columbia River at Vancouver was calculated for the period 1878–2004 with respect to both observed and virgin flows at The Dalles, on the basis of the data available at Vancouver for the period 1963–1969. The SPM (total load) rating curve employed the smearing correction suggested by Duan (1983). The powerlaw relationship between total sediment load, QS , and streamflow, QR , is nonlinear, with QS ∼ QR n , n = ∼2.4. 3 EXTREME EVENTS—A BROAD PERSPECTIVE Extreme events are weather or other natural events of an unusual and unexpected nature. The largest disturbances occur very infrequently, but may influence channel configuration and salmonid survival for centuries or even millennia after their occurrence. The post-Ice-Age floods before 13 000 YBP (McKee 1972), for example, altered the Eastern Washington landscape and greatly influenced the form and habitats of the lower Columbia River and estuary. Other catastrophic events, e.g. the “bridge of the gods” rockfall (on which modern Bonneville Dam is built) into the Columbia River have occurred since the stabilization of sea level ca. 6000–7000 YBP. The “bridge of the gods” event is now dated to ca. 1450 (O’Connor 2004). By blocking or nearly blocking fish passage up the Columbia River, the “bridge of the gods” event surely influenced salmonid distributions in the Interior Sub-basin east of the Cascade Mountains and native utilization of fish. A key, but unknown factor is how long the blockage was in place. A blockage of a few months’ duration would have had little longterm effect. A blockage longer than 1–2 years would have reduced the Interior Sub-basin for decades, or even longer. The rapids that remained af ...
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Review #1 by David A. Jay and Pradeep K. Naik: Distinguishing human and climate influences
on hydrological disturbance processes in Colombia River, (Taybr and Francis, 2011)
The article analyzes the changes that have occurred to Colombia River stream flow over
the years and identifies freshet styles, separ...

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