Climate Action CdA is a group of concerned citizens organized to educate and empower community action concerning the climate crisis.
With heat-trapping gas emissions continuing to increase, researchers expect the average annual temperature to increase by 3.3°F to 9.7°F in the next 60-80 years. But the temperatures are already warm enough now to experience something called “Snow Drought” which will have big impacts on North Idaho’s communities.
The impacts of climate change:
- Increased Incidents of Wildfire: Since 1986: The western fire season has been 78 days longer, that’s 4 times the increase in Fires which is >1000 acres, and 6 times the increase in acres burned. In 2015 more than 51,000 acres burned in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest….that’s more then the last 46 years combined. Increased wildfire leads to closures of our public lands and unhealthy levels of air pollution.
- Snow Drought: 70% of the water in western mountain regions comes from snow pack. Warmer winters mean that the snow isn’t collecting on mountains and, what does, is melting off the mountains earlier, depressing water supplies downstream and causing wildlife and fisheries to suffer. Even conservative estimates predict snow pack in our mountains to decline by 25% of its average in the 2020s, by a third in the 2040s and by approximately half toward the end of the century. This will leave many ski areas struggling as winter precipitation falls as rain, Salmon will have a tough time migrating through warm rivers, farmers will have to adjust the crops they grow and even wet-communities will have to conserve water.
- Warmer Waters: Hotter temperatures and less snow runoff have led to unseasonably high water temperatures. Lake Cocolalla was 80 degrees in July 2015. Larger lakes, including Hayden Lake, Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend O’reille were in the 70s. Hot water stresses fish, spurs plant growth and depletes oxygen levels. In fact, Lake Coeur d’Alene’s shallow south end went “anoxic” in June 2015, meaning there is no oxygen at the lake’s deepest levels. That was the earliest occurrence on record, said Laura Lamatia, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Lake management plan coordinator. The lack of oxygen creates conditions where nutrients and heavy metals (like lead, zinc, arsenic, mercury) in Lake sediments can become re-suspended in the water. With a century of mining waste at the bottom of the lake, the early oxygen depletion is a concern, with four straight months of anoxia before cool fall temperatures cool the lake and mix its layers.
Aquatic weeds also flourish in warmer waters. The growth of invasive milfoil was several weeks ahead of schedule in July 2015 and blooms of blue-green algae caused health advisories to be posted for Fernan and Avondale lakes and part of Hayden Lake. Blue-green algae blooms can produce toxins that sicken people and pets. Ingesting the toxins can cause breathing trouble and liver damage.
- Adaptation: Researchers project that climate change will also impact the subalpine species of trees that define the Inland Northwest, ultimately shifting the diversity and makeup of our forests to deciduous.
Climate Action CdA Projects: