Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

David G. Tarboton

Abstract

Understanding the implications of climate change on streamflow regime is complex as changes in climate vary over space and time. However, a better understanding of the impact of climate change is required for identifying how stream ecosystems vulnerable to these changes, and ultimately to guide the development of robust strategies for reducing risk in the face of changing climatic conditions. Here I used physically based hydrologic modeling to improve understanding of how climate change may impact streamflow regimes and advance some of the cyberinfrastructure and GIS methodologies that support physically based hydrologic modeling by: (1) using a physically based model to examine the potential effects of climate change on ecologically relevant aspects of streamflow regime, (2) developing data services in support of input data preparation for physically based distributed hydrologic models, and (3) enhancing terrain analysis algorithms to support rapid watershed delineation over large area. TOPNET, a physically based hydrologic model was applied over eight watersheds across the U.S to assess the sensitivity and changes of the streamflow regime due to climate change. Distributed hydrologic models require diverse geospatial and time series inputs, the acquisition and preparation of which are labor intensive and difficult to reproduce. I developed web services to automate the input data preparation steps for a physically based distributed hydrological model to enable water scientist to spend less time processing input data. This input includes terrain analysis and watershed delineation over a large area. However, limitations of current terrain analysis tools are (1) some support only a limited set of specific raster and vector data formats, and (2) all that we know of require data to be in a projected coordinate system. I enhanced terrain analysis algorithms to extend their generality and support rapid, web-based watershed delineation services. Climate change studies help to improve the scientific foundation for conducting climate change impacts assessments, thus building the capacity of the water management community to understand and respond to climate change. Web-based data services and enhancements to terrain analysis algorithms to support rapid watershed delineation will impact a diverse community of researchers involved terrain analysis, hydrologic and environmental modeling.

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