A National Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources

EPA Grant Number: R824992
Title: A National Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources
Investigators: Vogel, Richard , Kirshen, Paul , Moomaw, William
Institution: Tufts University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 15, 1996 through October 14, 1999
Project Amount: $1,325,371
RFA: Global Climate (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Global Climate Change , Climate Change


Water availability under possible future climate change is a subject of great interest and importance. National, regional and even local water resource system managers must determine whether to adapt incrementally to climate change as it occurs, or to develop an anticipatory strategy based upon very uncertain impacts and societal responses to those impacts. The decision to adapt incrementally to climate change as it occurs, or to develop an anticipatory strategy depends upon the vulnerability of water resource systems under both current and future climate conditions. The primary objective of this proposal is to develop and implement a methodology for evaluating the vulnerability of U.S. surface and groundwater resources under both existing and future climate/demand scenarios. Our approach is to model the tradeoffs which exist between the spatial and temporal water supply and demand patterns within systems of river basins under both existing and future hydroclimatologic regimes. Our methodology will enable us to distinquish which regions of the U.S. and which water use sectors are most vulnerable to the potential future modifications in climate.

A general methodology is introduced which exploits readily available information on regional climate, hydrology, water demand, and water resource infrastructure. Our methodology is truly a regional approach because it uses regional hydrologic methods to extend site-specific watershed information on climate, hydrology and water use for use at regional scales. Using recently released national databases of streamflow, climate, water demand, and water control infrastructure, along with recent advances in regional hydroclimatology, and the behavior of water supply systems, generalized hydroclimatologic models of 18 of the official 21 U.S. river basins will be developed at time scales ranging from the seasonal to annual levels. The hydroclimatologic models will provide projections of likely surface and groundwater availability for the entire United States. This is accomplished by using regional hydrologic methods to develop a hydroclimatologic model for large river basins from hundreds of individual watershed models in that region. The individual watershed model are continuous water balance models which capture the gross hydrologic budget including both ground and surface water as well as water control infrastructure such as reservoirs, lakes and diversions. The regional hydroclimatologic models will be used to summarize the vulnerability of water resources in each region, by water use sector, under a variety of future climate/demand scenarios. Our methodology uses a combination of greenhouse gas emission scenarios and climate models to produce a range of likely scenarios of future patterns of temperature and precipitation. Those likely climatic scenarios will be combined with several demand scenarios for each major river basin to determine the availability of water to meet future domestic, industrial, agricultural, cooling, hydropower and navigation needs.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 59 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 11 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water, global climate, regionalization, hydrology, modeling, climate model., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Water, Hydrology, Water & Watershed, climate change, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecological Risk Assessment, Watersheds, ecosystem models, environmental monitoring, water resources, National assessment, watershed, regional hydrologic vulnerability, hydrologic models, regional ecosystems, climate models, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stressors, climate variability, Global Climate Change

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998 Progress Report
  • Final Report