Event Title

Climate Change Effects on Surface Water Availability along Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range

Presenter Information

David Betts

Location

Logan Country Club

Streaming Media

Start Date

3-28-2017 3:00 PM

End Date

3-28-2017 3:05 PM

Description

Utah has a semi-arid climate, similar to much of the Western United states. Most precipitation falls during winter months and at higher elevations. Throughout the year, snowmelt supports valued ecosystems and provides water supply for human demands. Expected changes to local climate threaten snowpack, and thus water availability. For the west-slope Wasatch Range, composed of the Bear, Weber, and Provo-Jordan River Basins, we evaluated potential climate change effects on surface water availability and some dependent ecosystem services . We developed a one-dimensional, climate-forced, rainfall-runoff model of recent historic conditions (1985 – 2010) using Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP21) software. Dividing the entire watershed into more than 400 catchments, we combined average monthly climate data with topographic, soil, and land cover characteristics to estimate the conversion of precipitation and snowpack into unregulated surface flows. The model simulates surface and subsurface water transfers between catchments, while accounting for water losses through evapotranspiration using WEAP’s soil moisture method. We corroborated results by comparing simulated values with stream flow (USGS) and snow depth (SNOTEL) observations. We also estimate surface flows for the end of 21st century climate conditions using a moderate climate change scenario (Scalzitti, Strong, and Kochanski 2016) . While the climate model we used projects an increase in average annual precipitation, our rainfall-runoff models indicates that changes in temperature decrease surface water availability through increasing rates of snowmelt and evapotranspiration. Also, changes in the timing of surface flows may further reduce access to water for human and environmental uses during summer . Sustainable ecological and human water resources use should consider climate change. Our results will improve planning and decision-making for natural resource managers, municipalities, and other water users.

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Mar 28th, 3:00 PM Mar 28th, 3:05 PM

Climate Change Effects on Surface Water Availability along Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range

Logan Country Club

Utah has a semi-arid climate, similar to much of the Western United states. Most precipitation falls during winter months and at higher elevations. Throughout the year, snowmelt supports valued ecosystems and provides water supply for human demands. Expected changes to local climate threaten snowpack, and thus water availability. For the west-slope Wasatch Range, composed of the Bear, Weber, and Provo-Jordan River Basins, we evaluated potential climate change effects on surface water availability and some dependent ecosystem services . We developed a one-dimensional, climate-forced, rainfall-runoff model of recent historic conditions (1985 – 2010) using Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP21) software. Dividing the entire watershed into more than 400 catchments, we combined average monthly climate data with topographic, soil, and land cover characteristics to estimate the conversion of precipitation and snowpack into unregulated surface flows. The model simulates surface and subsurface water transfers between catchments, while accounting for water losses through evapotranspiration using WEAP’s soil moisture method. We corroborated results by comparing simulated values with stream flow (USGS) and snow depth (SNOTEL) observations. We also estimate surface flows for the end of 21st century climate conditions using a moderate climate change scenario (Scalzitti, Strong, and Kochanski 2016) . While the climate model we used projects an increase in average annual precipitation, our rainfall-runoff models indicates that changes in temperature decrease surface water availability through increasing rates of snowmelt and evapotranspiration. Also, changes in the timing of surface flows may further reduce access to water for human and environmental uses during summer . Sustainable ecological and human water resources use should consider climate change. Our results will improve planning and decision-making for natural resource managers, municipalities, and other water users.