Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Extramural Research

Assessing the Impact of a Warmer Climate on Stream Water Quality Across theMountainous Western United States.

EPA Grant Number: R834191
Title: Assessing the Impact of a Warmer Climate on Stream Water Quality Across theMountainous Western United States.
Investigators: Stewart-Frey, Iris , Maurer, Edwin
Institution: Santa Clara University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2012 (Extended to August 31, 2013)
Project Amount: $250,000
RFA: Consequences of Global Change for Water Quality (2008)
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Global Climate Change , Water and Watersheds

Description:

(1) The objective of the proposed work is to examine the impact of projected climatic changes on the near-surface hydrology and water quality across the mountainous western United States. (2) The hypothesis is that throughout the mountainous western U.S., climatic changes projected through the end of the century are likely to impact the near-surface hydrologic response, including water quality, such that water supply and aquatic ecosystems are significantly affected. (3) The proposed study will develop a modeling protocol that links output from 16 GCMS and three (high, medium, and low) emissions and water quality to a continous time hydrologic and water quality model (SWAT), capable of handling snowmelt, infiltration, shallow subsurface flow and groundwater recharge, and streamflow on the subbasin to subcontinental scale. The modeling protocol will be calibrated and validated for the Sierra Nevada (CA) mountain range and subsequently be applied to the western U.S. A sensitivity simulation will be conducted to identify the sensitivity of the simulated water quality variables to the simulated two-way coupling of land and atmosphere. The impact of projected climate change hydrologic and water quality parameters on different special and temporal scales, across GCM models and emission scenarios, and for region-to-region differences in vulnerability will be assessed and the impact on water supply and aquatic ecosystems will be evaluated; thus the proposed work is consistent with the requirements of the funding solicitation. The results of this effort will be a large publicly accessible dataset of simulated hydrologic and water quality parameters for 16 GCMs, 3 emissions scenario, a historic (1950-2008) and projected (2010- 2099) time period, daily, monthly, yearly, and decadal time scales, and subbasin (Sierra Nevada (CA)) to subcontinental (western United States) spacial scales. The analysis and data will be useful for watershed management, risk assessment, and policy planning.

Objective:

The objective of the proposed work is to examine the impact of projected climatic changes on the near-surface hydrology and water quality across the mountainous western United States. The hypothesis is that throughout the mountainous western U.S., climatic changes projected through the end of the century are likely to impact the near-surface hydrologic response, including water quality, such that water supply and aquatic ecosystems are significantly affected.

Approach:

The proposed study will develop a modeling protocol that links output from 16 GCMS and three (high, medium, and low) emissions and water quality to a continous time hydrologic and water quality model (SWAT), capable of handling snowmelt, infiltration, shallow subsurface flow and groundwater recharge, and streamflow on the subbasin to subcontinental scale. The modeling protocol will be calibrated and validated for the Sierra Nevada (CA) mountain range and subsequently be applied to the western U.S. A sensitivity simulation will be conducted to identify the sensitivity of the simulated water quality variables to the simulated two-way coupling of land and atmosphere. The impact of projected climate change hydrologic and water quality parameters on different special and temporal scales, across GCM models and emission scenarios, and for region-to-region differences in vulnerability will be assessed and the impact on water supply and aquatic ecosystems will be evaluated; thus the proposed work is consistent with the requirements of the funding solicitation.

Expected Results:

The results of this effort will be a large publicly accessible dataset of simulated hydrologic and water quality parameters for 16 GCMs, 3 emissions scenario, a historic (1950-2008) and projected (2010- 2099) time period, daily, monthly, yearly, and decadal time scales, and subbasin (Sierra Nevada (CA)) to subcontinental (western United States) spacial scales. The analysis and data will be useful for watershed management, risk assessment, and policy planning.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 21 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water, water quantity, water quality, watersheds, groundwater, soil, global climate, hydrology, modeling, West, California (CA), climate models;, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere, environmental monitoring, water resources, climate models

Progress and Final Reports:
2010 Progress Report
2011 Progress Report
2012 Progress Report
Final Report

Top of Page

The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

Jump to main content.