Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Assessing water management impacts of climate change for a semi-arid watershed in the southwestern US
by Rajagopal, Seshadri, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2012, 187; 3509607
Abstract (Summary)

Water managers for the City of Phoenix face the need to make informed policy decisions regarding long-term impacts of climate change on the Salt-Verde River basin. To provide a scientifically informed basis for this, we estimate the evolution of important components of the basin-scale water balance through the end of the 21st century. Bias-corrected and spatially downscaled climate projections from the Phase-3 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project of the World Climate Research Programme were used to drive a spatially distributed variable infiltration capacity model of the hydrologic processes in the Salt-Verde basin. From the many Global Climate Model's participating in the IPCC fourth assessment, we selected a five-model ensemble, including three that best reproduce the historical climatology for our study region, plus two others to represent wetter and drier than model average conditions; the latter two were requested by City of Phoenix water managers to more fully represent the full range of GCM prediction uncertainty. For each GCM, data for three emission scenarios (A1B, A2, B1) was used to drive the hydrologic model into the future. The model projections indicate a statistically significant 25% decrease in streamflow by the end of the 21st century. Contrary to previous assessments, this is not caused primarily by changes in the P/E ratio, but is found to result mainly from decreased winter precipitation accompanied by significant (temperature driven) reductions in storage of snow. The results show clearly the manner in which water management in central Arizona is likely to be impacted by changes in regional climate.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gupta, Hoshin V.
Commitee: Castro, Christopher L., Dominguez, Francina
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Hydrology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Hydrologic sciences, Climate Change, Meteorology
Keywords: Climate change, Climate impact assessment, Hydrology, Meteorology, Semiarid watersheds, Variable infiltration capacity
Publication Number: 3509607
ISBN: 978-1-267-36255-1
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