Climate change in the Sierra Nevada mountains: Implications for the management of hydropower facilities and aquatic ecosystems

This project used a WEAP application of the entire Sierra Nevada Range to investigate how best to balance hydropower production and ecosystem management on an eco-regional basis in the face of climate change.

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is the water tower of California. The accumulation of snow during the winter months, and the progressive melting of that snow during the late spring and early summer, provides a supply of water to which water management systems in California have been finely tuned.

This includes a large number of hydropower facilities which provide a significant amount of power during the hot dry summer but which create many problems for the managers of aquatic ecosystems within the zone of water storage, diversion, and release associated with hydropower production.

The expectation in California is that climate change will result in a significant reduction in the amount of snow accumulating in the Sierra Nevada.

Funder: The Resource Legacy Fund Foundation

Partners: University of California, Davis, Watercourse Engineering, Inc.