How Is Climate Change Affecting Salmon?

Climate change is heavily affecting numerous species, including various types of salmon.

These four factors are the most prominent:

  • Drought
  • Stream/river warming
  • Fires ruining spawning habitat
  • Increased number of landslides

Drought

Drier-than-average summers reduce water flow. This means the water salmon do have to swim in warms up faster. In some cases, the streams can dry up. Small pools of water will be all that’s left, meaning the salmon can’t go anywhere to spawn

Learn more: Drought and salmon populations

Stream/river warming

The warmer water temperatures we are seeing from climate change are deadly and very harmful for salmon. According to Watershed Watch, even temperatures that don’t kill salmon outright can alter their behavior. They can’t swim as fast, have weakened immune systems, and have a harder time escaping predators. 

Learn more: wildfires and salmon

Fires ruining spawning habitats

Wildfires are burning hotter and moving faster as drought expands and fuels like brush and trees are drier than ever in many places. They can weaken slopes, destroy large swaths of vegetation and forest, and wipe out tree cover. They can also change the chemistry of the water. When more sediment gets into streams and covers critical spawning areas, salmon populations are less resilient.

Learn more: wildfires and salmon

More frequent landslides

Severe, warm rain storm events, which are more frequent in our warming climate, can  strip hillsides and mountainsides of soil, trees, and send that debris crashing below. This can block off salmon spawning habitats.

Learn more: landslides and climate change

Key takeaways 

  • Climate change causes more intense wildfires and destructive landslides, which can block spawning grounds.
  • Warmer water temperatures are extremely harmful, if not deadly, for salmon. 

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