Idea for Use in the Classroom

Investigate how diminishing snowpack affects the Klamath River by first exploring the river’s flow. Use the “River Upside Down” map to identify the river’s initial tributaries and where it enters the Pacific Ocean. Have students compare the Klamath to other major rivers to demonstrate why it is referred to as “upside down.” 

Next, review the “Spring Snowpack Trends” map to observe changes in snowpack across the watershed. Ask: Where did the largest decreases in snowpack occur? Increases? Are there any conflicting changes? Provide pairs of students with copies of both maps and have them describe the topography of areas in which snowpack has changed. Direct students to verify whether lower elevations, rather than higher elevations, are experiencing decreases in snowpack, as stated.

Then have students identify the tributary waters flowing through areas of decreased snowpack. As a class, review the categories on the “River Upside Down” key. As students trace the tributaries, have them identify the types of land-use that exist nearby and then compare this to land-use along the Klamath River. Have students use their findings to deduce the kinds of stakeholders invested in the region and predict how they might be impacted by decreased snowpack.

Finally, share the “Adult Chinook” infographic and explain how Chinook salmon return to freshwater to spawn. Have students discuss changes in the population over time, connecting reduced snowpack to the state of the river. To conclude, have students use evidence from each resource to predict how climate change will impact salmon populations and the Klamath watershed in general.

anadromous
Adjective

characteristic of an animal that migrates from salt water to fresh water.

Chinook salmon
Noun

species of large salmon native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America, also known as king salmon.

Noun

gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

farmland
Noun

area used for agriculture.

freshwater
Adjective

having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

generation
Noun

time between an organism's birth and the time it reproduces.

Noun

watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.

Klamath River
Noun

American river, important for salmon and other anadromous fish, which flows through Northern California and Oregon, and empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Noun

movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.

Noun

layers of snow that naturally build up during snowfalls.

spawn
Verb

to give birth to.

Noun

stream that feeds, or flows, into a larger stream.

Noun

entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries.