Modeling of Glaciers and Hydrologic Change in the Skagit River Basin

Full Title

Modeling of Glaciers and Associated Hydrologic Impacts in the Skagit River Basin

Project Overview

During late summer, glacial meltwater is an essential component of the water budget of the Skagit River as it provides cold flows that are critical for endangered fish species after runoff from snowpack has subsided. Glacier inventories in the Pacific Northwest have shown dramatic changes in glaciers over the 20th century, and additional warming is expected to further reduce glacial mass and meltwater in the Skagit River basin. The loss of glacial meltwater will challenge the ability of the Skagit project operations to meet the instream flow requirements of the project license. The purpose of this study is to provide Seattle City Light with a model component of the Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model (DHSVM) that can simulate the effects of climate on glacier mass and meltwater in the Skagit River basin. The development of the new glacier model within DHSVM will incorporate data recently collected as part of the updated glacier inventory completed by the National Parks Service. This model will have the capability to simulate how ice resources of the Skagit River basin will change over the next 100 years in response to projected warming. Additionally, the model will have the capability to simulate how these changes in glacier mass will affect streamflow and water temperature at different times of the year and at different spatial scales throughout the river basin. The DHSVM model has been applied to Skagit basin (without a glacier model) previously, so development of a pilot glacier module will ultimately facilitate simulations of glacial effects throughout the entire basin.

Key Personnel

* Indicates CIG Personnel or CIG Affiliate

  • Erkan Istanbulluoglu* (Principal Investigator), University of Washington
  • Christina Bandaragoda, University of Washington
  • Chris Frans, University of Washington
  • Crystal Raymond, Seattle City Light

 Key Collaborators

Jon Reidle, National Park Service; Andrew Fountain, Portland State University; Alan Hamlet, University of Notre Dame; Correigh Greene, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center; Eric Grossman, U.S. Geological Survey; Larry Wasserman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community


Seattle City Light

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