Friday, May 18, 2012

US Geological Survey details effects of climate change on water availability in 14 local basins nationwide

US Geological Survey: Climate change projections indicate a steady increase in temperature progressing through the 21st century, generally resulting in snowpack reductions, changes to the timing of snowmelt, altered streamflows, and reductions in soil moisture, all of which could affect water management, agriculture, recreation, hazard mitigation, and ecosystems across the nation. Despite some widespread similarities in climate change trends, climate change will affect specific water basins in the U.S. differently, based on the particular hydrologic and geologic conditions in that area.

New USGS modeling studies project changes in water availability due to climate change at the local level. So far, the USGS has applied these models to fourteen basins, including: Sprague River Basin, Oregon; Sagehen Creek Basin, California; Feather River Basin, California; Naches River Basin, Washington; Yampa River Basin, Colorado; East River Basin, Colorado; Black Earth Creek Basin, Wisconsin; Flint River Basin, Georgia; Pomperaug River Watershed, Connecticut; Clear Creek Basin, Iowa; Cathance Stream Basin, Maine; Trout Lake Basin, Wisconsin; Starkweather Coulee Basin, North Dakota; South Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

"The advantage of these studies is that they demonstrate that there is not just one hydrological response to climate change: the predictions account for essential local factors that will govern the timing, severity, and type of impact, whether it be water shortage, drought, or flood," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This is exactly the sort of information communities need to know now, because we are unlikely to see a 'water-as-usual' future."

....The results for each basin present a complex story due to uncertainty associated with the future climate projections and their effect on the hydrological response of the different geographical regions of the nation....

A photograph from the 1870s of the Yampa River in Colorado as part of the Powell Survey, by E. O. (Elias Olcott) Beaman, possibly others

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