Regional Streamflow Sensitivity to Climate Change in an Urbanizing Environment

EPA Grant Number: R824806
Title: Regional Streamflow Sensitivity to Climate Change in an Urbanizing Environment
Investigators: DeWalle, David R.
Current Investigators: DeWalle, David R. , Swistock, Bryan R.
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 1995 through September 30, 1998 (Extended to September 30, 1999)
Project Amount: $120,000
RFA: Regional Hydrologic Vulnerability to Global Climate Change (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Water , Climate Change , Global Climate Change


Climatic models have projected that global-mean temperatures will increase by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius during the first half of the 21st century. Recent studies have provided the first evidence that such climatic changes may result in measurable changes in streamflow and water availability. An understanding of the impact of widespread urbanization and geographic location on hydrologic sensitivity to climate change is lacking. It is hypothesized that hydrologic sensitivity to climate change will vary among regions and that sensitivity will be affected by land-use changes that significantly alter the allocation of basin water budget components. The purpose of this study is to determine the regional sensitivity of streamflow characteristics to climate fluctuations and land-use changes by major geographic regions within the United States.

Historical climatic, streamflow, and land-use data will be collected for 40 watersheds with at least 50 years of records. Ten watersheds will be selected in each of four regions including the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest continental United States. Multiple regression models will be used to relate numerous annual and seasonal hydrologic attributes to temperature, precipitation, and land-use independent variables. Regression parameters will be statistically compared between regions and between urbanizing and forested land-use types. Hypothetical future changes in temperature, precipitation, and land-use will also be applied to the regional regression models to compare regional sensitivity to climate changes.

The regional models developed from this project may be useful for predicting variations in streamflow characteristics from climatic and land-use changes. The results of this study will provide a better understanding of the regional importance of temperature, precipitation, and land-use changes to hydrologic processes.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 9 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

global climate, vulnerability, hydrology, northeast, northwest, southwest, southeast, Region 3, Region 9, Region 10, Region 4,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Water, Geographic Area, Water & Watershed, Hydrology, climate change, Ecological Risk Assessment, Watersheds, EPA Region, water resources, ecosystem models, region 4, Region 9, environmental monitoring, alternative urbanization scenarios, streamflow sensitivity, watershed, regional hydrologic vulnerability, Region 3, drinking water supplies, hydrologic models, precipitation patterns, climate models, urban growth, urbanizing watersheds, land and water resources, Region 10, climate variability, climatic models

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998 Progress Report
  • Final Report