Salmon Watersheds Program

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Climate Change Indicators for Pacific Salmon in the Fraser River Estuary

Estuaries are dynamic ecosystems that provide important connections between land and ocean and are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Climate change is altering the hydrological cycle that heavily influences estuarine ecosystems and affects the species that inhabit them. The Fraser River estuary is the largest estuary in British Columbia and all five species of Pacific salmon migrate through the estuary twice in their life, as adults accessing spawning grounds, and as juveniles migrating out to the ocean. In this report we look to identify how climate change is affecting the Fraser River estuary and the impacts this may have on Pacific salmon. We do this by identifying climate indicators, which are environmental variables that are sensitive to change, relatively easy to measure, and representative of changes to the ecosystem. We then conduct data analysis on these climate indicators to look for changes through time. Finally, we discuss our findings, focusing on these indicators may affect salmon.

This report was produced as part of the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program, a partnership between the University of British Columbia and various local governments and organizations in support of providing graduate students with opportunities to do applied research on projects that advance sustainability across the region. This project was conducted under the mentorship of the staff of the Salmon Watersheds Program.