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Evaluate the impacts of Climate Change on Effectiveness of Habitat Restoration Structures and Restoration Activities

Project ID: 8765
Principal Investigator: Toni Turner
Research Topic: Sediment Management and River Restoration
Priority Area Assignments: 2013 (Climate Change and Variability Research)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: climate change, design, restoration, hydrology, hydraulics, ecological resources, secure water act

Research Question

Recent studies indicate that climate change in the Pacific Northwest is expected to cause changes in the timing, duration, and frequency of flow in river systems (Reclamation 2011; Palmer, et al 2009; . When riparian or in-channel restoration or rehabilitation design work is initiated, the assumption of stationarity (i.e., the past flow will be the same in the future) is used for sizing material used in structures (e.g., woody debris, rock weirs, flow diversion structures, concrete dams/sills, or other engineered structures) or for locating elevations at which structures should be placed or elevations at which banks should be allowed to overtop onto its adjacent floodplain. In addition, specific goals are identified for each restoration project relative to the area and type of habitat created for a species of interest and volume or velocity of flow compatible with the new design among other parameters. The research question that is to be addressed in this scoping effort is to understand whether or not the change in supply due to climate change alters the effectiveness of Reclamation's habitat restoration structures.

This work will help respond to data gaps identified in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Technical Series CWTS-10-02 document Addressing Climate Change in Long-Term Water Resources Planning and Management, User Needs for Improving Tools and Information (Reclamation and Corps 2011). These gaps include 4.07 (riparian ecosystems) and 4.08 translating to model frameworks as well as support understanding of Gaps 4.04 (strengths and weaknesses of available versions of spatially distributed hydrologic water data that may be used for both watershed hydrologic model development and in climate model bias-correction) and 4.06 (understanding inland and coastal anadromous fisheries). This work will also support the efforts of the WWCRA Team to better implement quantify the four Ecological Resource categories in SECURE.

Need and Benefit

Restoration projects in have generally been designed using historical gauge records when calculating flow and related hydraulic parameters (velocity, depth, shear stress). The impact of climate change on these hydraulic parameters has not yet been considered in the design, construction, or monitoring plans for these projects even though climate change is projected to change flow patterns (timing, duration, extreme events, variability). The need to understand how these projected changes in the future may impact the effectiveness of continued use of stationarity in flow is at the center of this proposal.

In the Pacific Northwest, climate change is expected cause earlier peak flow timing in addition to a higher volume of flow in the cool season and lower volumes in the warm season (Reclamation 2011). Understanding how these projected changes affect a major component of Reclamation's mission will ultimately benefit all of Reclamation.

Contributing Partners

None

Research Products

The major deliverable or research product from this effort will be a document at the end of FY13 documenting the results of the scoping effort. It will include identification of partners, hydraulic parameters of interest, geographic area of study, and climate change model selection and evaluation approach. A conceptual model that can be applied west-wide will also be completed. This work should lead to a FY14 proposal in which the approach developed can be applied in a pilot study.

This information was last updated on April 19, 2014
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