Tailwater fisheries may be partly insulated from climate change

In general, warming temperatures connected to climate change are likely to threaten the habitat of trout and other fish that depend on cold water. But in places known as tailwaters, this might be less of a danger — in some cases, anyway.

A tailwater is a fishery fed by water released from a reservoir upstream. If that water is from the cool water at the bottom of the reservoir, rather than from relatively warm surface, fish that need cool water may have a better chance of survival. A paper by B. A. Sinokrot and several colleagues in the journal Climatic Change goes into some detail on this phenomenon.[[Sinokrot, B. A., H. G. Stefan, J. H. McCormick, and J. G. Eaton. “Modeling of climate change effects on stream temperatures and fish habitats below dams and near groundwater inputs.” (Abstract) Climatic Change 30, no. 2 (1995): 181-200.]]  

The health of fish habitat is not just an ecological issue; it’s also economic. In Montana alone, the fishing industry contributes about $300 million to the state’s economy.