Preliminary Analysis of Climate Controls on Streamflow, Mass Balance, and Radial Growth of Subalpine Trees in the North Fork Nooksack Watershed, North Cascades, Washington

Authors: Hannah LaGassey*, Western Washington University
Topics: Biogeography, Physical Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Paleoclimatology, dendrochronology, hydrology, glaciers, streamflow, North Cascades
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The North Cascades are the most glaciated environment in the contiguous United States, with the active stratovolcano Mount Baker (Lummi: Qwú'mə Kwəlshéːn; Nooksack: Kw'eq Smaenit or Kwelshán) as the most glaciated peak. The North Fork Nooksack waterway is ecologically, culturally, and commercially valuable to the region. Glacial melt comprises a substantial portion of North Fork Nooksack streamflow in the late summer season. As climate change reduces the proportion of precipitation as snow and increases summer temperatures, glaciers in the Pacific Northwest will continue to melt at alarming rates. Extending hydrological records towards the past provides context for present and future conditions. This study evaluates the plausibility of dendrochronological reconstruction of glacial mass balance and late summer streamflow in the North Fork Nooksack watershed. I test a snowpack-sensitive Tsuga mertensiana (mountain hemlock) chronology along with mass balance and streamflow data for correlation with annual and seasonal climate variables as groundwork for future reconstruction models. Projections of future conditions suggest increased water scarcity in the North Fork Nooksack watershed during late summer. In order to further investigate the impact of glacial changes on the North Fork Nooksack, additional study of past mass balance and late summer streamflow is needed.

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