1998 Progress Report: 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 Period Covered by this Report: October 15, 1997 through October 14, 1998
Project Amount: $1,325,371
RFA: Global Climate (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Global Climate Change , Climate Change

Objective:

The overall goal of this project is to develop and implement a general methodology for evaluating the vulnerability of U.S. surface and groundwater resources, by region, under existing and future climatic conditions. This report summarizes our progress in the second year of this 3-year project. It is our goal, as described in the original proposal, to produce a series of approximately 11 refereed research articles based on this overall project. Therefore, the approach taken in this progress report is to summarize all completed and partially complete research articles.

Progress Summary:

This project involves two major phases organized into Tasks A-H. Our progress and accomplishments for each task are described below.

Task A?Regional Hydroclimatologic Model Development. During this second year we completed the development of the regional hydroclimatologic models of annual streamflow for the United States. Our first publication, titled "The Regional Persistence and Variability of Annual Streamflow in the United States," analyzed the regional persistence and variability of flow records to aid in the choice of an appropriate regional scale used in subsequent regional assessments. We also summarize regional measures of persistence and variability for the conterminous United States.

Our second paper, titled "Regional Regression Models of Annual Streamflow for the United States," describes the development of regional hydroclimatologic regression models that relate the mean and variance of annual streamflow to drainage basin area, annual average precipitation, annual average temperature, and other basin characteristics in each of 18 U.S. regions.

Those models are remarkably precise with R2 values that range from 90.2 to 99.8 percent for all regions of the United States, with an average R2 value of 96.2 percent. The third paper, titled "Scaling Properties of Annual Streamflow and Watershed Model Parameters," develops a new procedure that can be used to estimate the parameters of a regional watershed model, using regional streamflow, climate and basin information combined with some recent innovations in the theory of scaling properties of streamflow.

Regional models of monthly streamflow currently are under development. These models are based on the proven "abcd" model with an added snowmelt model component. We relate key drainage basin and climate characteristics to watershed model parameters, allowing us to generate time-series of monthly streamflow from time-series of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration for all regions of the United States.

Task B?Creating Future Possible Climate Scenarios. Because of the difficulty of obtaining relevant GCM results from many disparate sources, we have decided to use the VEMAP GCM results. The VEMAP GCM results provide gridded estimates of all relevant climate output in a consistent and reproducible fashion.

Task C?Characterization of Historical and Current Water Uses By Sectors. We have obtained and organized a portion of the U.S. Geological Survey Historical Water Use database, by sector, and by water resource region.

Task D?National Inventory of Reservoirs, Lakes and Other Water Infrastructure. Combining the regional hydrologic models developed in our second paper with previous research by the Principal Investigator as well as the national inventory of storage reservoirs, we determined the distribution of yield, resilience, reliability, and vulnerability of these reservoirs, by water resource region, under existing and future climate conditions. This analysis resulted in the paper titled "The Behavior of Storage Reservoirs in the United States under Climate Change." This paper also was summarized in a short proceedings article published in the proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division.

These studies compare the performance of water supply systems across the United States under climate change. One can expect less water availability and increased hydrologic variability under future climate scenarios. Overall, system yields will decline everywhere. Nevertheless, reservoir systems in the eastern United States will become more resilient and less reliable under climate change, whereas western systems will become less resilient and less reliable.

Task E?Validation of Regional Hydroclimatologic Modeling Approach. Work is underway to calibrate and validate regional hydroclimatologic watershed models for all regions of the United States. In addition, work is under way to evaluate the climatic elasticity of streamflow across the United States. Improved methods are under development for estimation of the climate elasticity of streamflow.

Task F?Determination of Vulnerability Indices Under Current and Future Climates. One approach to regional water resource assessment under climate change is to employ indicators.. This work is described in a paper and was summarized in the proceedings publication for the 25th Annual Conference of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division.

Task G?Comparison With Previous Studies. This task has not yet begun.

Task H?Regional Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources. The methodologies and data sources have now been finalized and work has begun on the development and application of an equilibrium model for 18 major U.S. water resource regions.

  • Regional Sectoral Demand Curves. The goal is to develop demand curves for water resources by water use sector for both present and future climates. These curves are being used to develop a partial equilibrium model of the demand and supply of water as a function of climate, for each of 18 major water resource regions. Demand curves presently are under development for domestic, industrial, cooling, irrigation, and hydropower uses.

  • Regional Water Supply Curves. The goal is to develop supply curves for various categories of water supply as functions of price and hydrologic and climate variables. The curves are to be used in the partial equilibrium model. A study was completed of the cost of domestic water in the United States (see paper titled "Cost of Domestic Water Supply in the United States").

  • Regional Assessment of Water Allocation Under Climate Change. A partial equilibrium model is under development for each of the 18 major water resource regions. The model determines the allocation of water demands to supplies, such that the net benefits of water use are maximized (net benefit is the difference between willingness-to-pay and willingness-to-supply).

  • The Impact of Climate Change on Floods in the United States. We have begun regional evaluations of the impact of climate change on the record-breaking properties of floods. This work will be summarized in the publication titled "The Record Breaking Properties of Floods in the U.S."

Benefits of Research to other EPA Sponsored Research Programs. Coincident with this research project is another project titled "Water and Climate Change: A National Assessment of Regional Vulnerability" being carried out by Hagler Bailly Services, Inc., for the Environmental Protection Agency (Contract No. 68-W6-0055. EPA Work Assignment Manager - Neil Leary, September 22, 1998). Data organized and managed within the context of this project was a primary ingredient for numerous indicators in the Hagler Bailly Services Study.

Future Activities:

Continue efforts to develop the regional hydroclimatologic model, conduct comparisons with previous studies and validate the hydroclimatologic studies, determine vulnerability indices under current and future climates, conduct regional assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources, complete a study on the cost of domestic water in the United States, build a prototype water allocation model, and complete evaluations of the impact of climate change on the record breaking properties of floods.


Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 59 publications 11 publications in selected types All 11 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Vogel RM, Tsai Y, Limbrunner JF. The regional persistence and variability of annual streamflow in the United States. Water Resources Research 1998;34(12):3445-3459. R824992 (1998)
R824992 (1999)
R824992 (Final)
  • Full-text: Tufts University PDF
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  • Abstract: Water Resources Research
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  • Journal Article Vogel RM, Wilson I, Daly C. Regional regression models of annual streamflow for the United States. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering 1999;125(3):148-157. R824992 (1998)
    R824992 (1999)
    R824992 (Final)
  • Full-text: Tufts University PDF
    Exit
  • Abstract: Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
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  • Journal Article Vogel RM, Lane M, Ravindiran RS, Kirshen P. Storage reservoir behavior in the United States. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 1999:125(5):245-254. R824992 (1998)
    R824992 (Final)
  • Full-text: Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management PDF
    Exit
  • Abstract: Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

    climate change, regional assessment, environmental indicators, water supply, regional hydrology, floods., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Water, Hydrology, Water & Watershed, climate change, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecological Risk Assessment, Watersheds, water resources, ecosystem models, National assessment, environmental monitoring, watershed, regional hydrologic vulnerability, hydrologic models, regional ecosystems, climate models, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stressors, climate variability, groundwater

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1997
  • Final Report