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Keywords:

  • ENSO;
  • PDO;
  • precipitation;
  • discharge;
  • temperature;
  • streams;
  • organic matter;
  • ecosystem function

ABSTRACT: Climate data from the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest (MKRF) in the Coast Range mountains of southwestern British Columbia were used to examine relationships between climate and hydrology and variations in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Air and water temperatures were higher and precipitation was lower during in-phase or warm PDO/E1 Niño events than in other years. In contrast, in-phase or cool PDO/La Niña years were generally cooler and wetter than other years. Precipitation and East Creek discharge were positively related to the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and negatively related to the PDO index. Conversely, air and water temperatures were negatively related to the SOI and positively related to the PDO index. Differences in precipitation and air temperature were also evident at longer time scales when separated by PDO phase. Because of drier conditions during in-phase El Niño events, the flow of organic matter from East Creek to downstream portions of the channel network was lower compared to other years. This reduction has implications for downstream communities, as these subsidies provide a major source of energy for stream food webs. Therefore, short term and long term shifts in climate, discharge, and water temperature may have profound impacts on the ecology of Pacific Northwest (PNW) watersheds due to changes in a number of ecosystem processes such as altered flux of organic matter from headwater streams to larger rivers.