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Environment: Scientists find widespread contamination of food web in Columbia River

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The Columbia River Basin, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Some chemicals exceed limits set to protect human health

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even the Northwest’s mighty Columbia River isn’t immune to persistent chemical pollution federal scientists said last week, publicizing a new study that found fish with traces of pesticides and PCBs at levels that raise health concerns.

The data have been sent to state health officials in Oregon and Washington who will evaluate the new information to determine exactly how much of the resident fish are safe to eat.

The researchers measured contaminants, including pesticides, flame retardant compounds, and ingredients from common household products in the water and osprey eggs at 10 different locations along the Columbia River. Continue reading

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Can dams help buffer global warming impacts?

Columbia River study shows potential benefits of stored water

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This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) shows snowcover for the Columbia River Basin in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, taken on February 24, 2003 (250 meter resolution). Credit: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For all the environmental mayhem they’ve caused in the past, dams may help buffer some aquatic ecosystems from future global warming impacts, according to a new study from Oregon State University.

Specifically, the researchers said dams could provide “ecological and engineering resilience” to climate change in the Columbia River basin.

“The dams are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to use engineering – and management – to buffer us from climate variability and climate warming,” said Julia Jones, an Oregon State University hydrologist and co-author on the study. “The climate change signals that people have expected in stream flow haven’t been evident in the Columbia River basin because of the dams and reservoir management. That may not be the case elsewhere, however.” Continue reading

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