Modeling of the Hydrochemical Response of High Elevation Watersheds to Climate Change and Atmospheric Deposition

EPA Grant Number: R834188
Title: Modeling of the Hydrochemical Response of High Elevation Watersheds to Climate Change and Atmospheric Deposition
Investigators: Driscoll, Charles T. , Campbell, John L. , Hayhoe, Katharine , Wu, Wei
Current Investigators: Driscoll, Charles T. , Campbell, John L. , Pourmokhtarian, Afshin , Hayhoe, Katharine , Wu, Wei , Dong, Zheng
Institution: Syracuse University , University of Southern Mississippi , USDA , Towson University
Current Institution: Syracuse University , Towson University , USDA , University of Southern Mississippi
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 1, 2009 through July 31, 2012 (Extended to July 31, 2014)
Project Amount: $800,000
RFA: Consequences of Global Change for Water Quality (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Climate Change , Watersheds , Aquatic Ecosystems , Water


To assess the potential impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems, a multi-faceted approach is required. This approach needs to be capable of resolving multiple climatic and other anthropogenic stressors likely to simultaneously affect ecosystems over the coming decades. Ecological responses to climate change have been assessed by observational, gradient, laboratory and field studies; however, models are the only practical approach to investigate how future changes in climate are likely to interact with other drivers of global change such as atmospheric deposition and land disturbance over broad regions. Here, we propose to apply a fully integrated coupled hydrological and biogeochemical model (PnET-BGC) to evaluate the effects of climate change at 14 diverse, intensively studied, high-elevation watersheds. This research will take advantage of long-term watershed data from intensive study sites that exhibit climatic conditions (temperature, precipitation) spanning the expected range of future climate change. Our goal is to assess the impact of climate change combined with air pollution and historical land disturbance on diverse forest and aquatic ecosystems representative of high-elevation sites across the U.S. While PnET-BGC has been used extensively to assess the effects of land-disturbance and changes in atmospheric deposition, efforts to simulate climate change impacts have been limited by the coarse resolution of climate projections. For this study, high-resolution climate projections will be generated through statistical downscaling based on the latest atmosphere-ocean general circulation model simulations, with further refinements through comparison with local weather station records. These downscaling techniques make it possible to drive PnET-BGC simulations with climate projections specific to individual sites. Initial PnET-BGC predictions for the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, indicate a broad range of hydrologic and biogeochemical responses to changing climate. This example provides an indication of the direction and extent of change that might be expected under different climate scenarios. Through this study, we intend to promote more widespread use of PnET-BGC. Additionally our public access website for PnET-BGC will be revised to provide updated climate change simulations to encourage further development and testing of the model.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 26 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 6 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

atmospheric deposition, climate change, high elevation, hydrology, PnET-BGC, watershed, water chemistry;, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere, environmental monitoring, hydrologic models, atmospheric models

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • Final Report