[MCN] Montana scientist Cathy Whitlock: Climate effects on snow, fish, outdoor recreation

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Sun May 13 08:25:56 EDT 2018

Professor warns of climate change's effects on recreation <https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Professor-warns-of-climate-change-s-effects-on-12909051.php&ct=ga&cd=CAEYCioUMTAyNzc3ODk2NTcwNjUxOTgxNDcyGmVlMTZiNzlhYTNlZjA2ZGY6Y29tOmVuOlVT&usg=AFQjCNHtl8hFI4BD2LZbKwOmtplc4qjScQ>
San Francisco Chronicle

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Professor-warns-of-climate-change-s-effects-on-12909051.php <https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Professor-warns-of-climate-change-s-effects-on-12909051.php>

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Mild-mannered Cathy Whitlock is blunt when she talks about climate change in Montana.

"Spoiler alert," she said. "The climate is getting warmer, and we're going to have to deal with it."

Skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers take note: If the trend continues, Whitlock said Montana could see a 20 to 60 percent decrease in snowpack.

Temperatures would be warmer year-round, meaning less snow and more rain.

"Obviously there's a big challenge there," said Scott Christensen, director of conservation for the Bozeman-based Greater Yellowstone Coalition advocacy group, which invited Whitlock to address a recent gathering. "We (Montanans) like to think we're protected.”.

Another effect of climate change on the area's recreation could be that more people will be taking part in water-based sports where they can stay cooler in the summer, Whitlock speculated. That will put increased stress on infrastructure like boat launches and fishing access sites.

Warmer temperatures could also lead to more problems with fish diseases, like the one that killed off hundreds if not thousands of whitefish on the Yellowstone River in 2016, along with another 80 killed in 2017.

The problems aren't isolated to Montana. A recently published study out of Dartmouth College noted that, "Previous studies show that stream temperatures react to changes in air temperature and that this can affect the distribution, abundance, physiology, behavior and mortality of cold water fish and other species such as mayflies and stoneflies, invertebrates that support species such as brook trout" in New Hampshire.

"We need to elevate climate change in our decision making," Whitlock said.

"Our results indicate that future reductions in Arctic sea ice cover could significantly reduce available water in the American west...."

 Jacob O. Sewall and Lisa Cirbus Sloan. Disappearing Arctic sea ice reduces available water in the American west  

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