Event Title

The Implications of Climate Change Scenario Selection for Future Streamflow Projection in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Presenter Information

Andrew Wood

Location

ECC 216

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu/

Start Date

4-4-2012 2:50 PM

End Date

4-4-2012 3:10 PM

Description

The impact of projected 21st century climate conditions on streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin was estimated using a multi-model ensemble approach wherein the downscaled outputs of 112 future climate scenarios from 16 global climate models (GCMs) were used to drive a macroscale hydrology model. By the middle of the century, the impacts on streamflow range, over the entire ensemble, from a decrease of approximately 30% to an increase of approximately the same magnitude. Although prior studies and associated media coverage have focused heavily on the likelihood of a drier future for the Colorado River Basin, approximately one-third of the ensemble of runs result in little change or increases in streamflow. The broad range of projected impacts is primarily the result of uncertainty in projections of future precipitation, and a relatively small part of the variability of precipitation across the projections can be attributed to the effect of emissions scenarios. The simulated evolution of future temperature is strongly influenced by emissions, but temperature has a smaller influence than precipitation on flow. Period change statistics (i.e., the change in flow from one 30-yr period to another) vary as much within a model ensemble as between models and emissions scenarios. Even over the course of the current century, the variability across the projections is much greater than the trend in the ensemble mean. The relatively large ensemble analysis described herein provides perspective on earlier studies that have used fewer scenarios, and suggests that impact analyses relying on one or a few scenarios, as is still common in dynamical downscaling assessments, are unacceptably influenced by choice of projections.

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Apr 4th, 2:50 PM Apr 4th, 3:10 PM

The Implications of Climate Change Scenario Selection for Future Streamflow Projection in the Upper Colorado River Basin

ECC 216

The impact of projected 21st century climate conditions on streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin was estimated using a multi-model ensemble approach wherein the downscaled outputs of 112 future climate scenarios from 16 global climate models (GCMs) were used to drive a macroscale hydrology model. By the middle of the century, the impacts on streamflow range, over the entire ensemble, from a decrease of approximately 30% to an increase of approximately the same magnitude. Although prior studies and associated media coverage have focused heavily on the likelihood of a drier future for the Colorado River Basin, approximately one-third of the ensemble of runs result in little change or increases in streamflow. The broad range of projected impacts is primarily the result of uncertainty in projections of future precipitation, and a relatively small part of the variability of precipitation across the projections can be attributed to the effect of emissions scenarios. The simulated evolution of future temperature is strongly influenced by emissions, but temperature has a smaller influence than precipitation on flow. Period change statistics (i.e., the change in flow from one 30-yr period to another) vary as much within a model ensemble as between models and emissions scenarios. Even over the course of the current century, the variability across the projections is much greater than the trend in the ensemble mean. The relatively large ensemble analysis described herein provides perspective on earlier studies that have used fewer scenarios, and suggests that impact analyses relying on one or a few scenarios, as is still common in dynamical downscaling assessments, are unacceptably influenced by choice of projections.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2012/AllAbstracts/54