Evaluating the impacts of climate change on regional hydrology

Project Type: 
Core Research Project
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
The Nature Conservancy, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Project Fellows: 
Status: 
Ongoing
Science Themes: 

There are a number of fundamental questions that remain unanswered in the Northeast concerning the likely changes to climate and their impacts on hydrology. We are focusing our efforts on formulating and answering those questions that are likely to be of most interested to our stakeholders, including: How will precipitation intensities change in the 21st century? Is there going to be a change in seasonality with summer convective storms encroaching into spring and fall? Will the frequency of 1-day or multi-day extreme rainfall events change? How intense are summer storms going to be and how will they affect surface runoff? Has the frequency of high streamflows changed during the 20th century? How will it change in the future due to increase precipitation intensity? How will extreme precipitation and flooding response change in a future warmer climate?

We are also looking into how declining (or stable) summer precipitation, along with warmer temperatures, will affect low flow conditions and base flow, and how aquatic ecosystems and water supply will be impacted by lower flow conditions. Will the frequency of low flows change? Will a warmer climate change spring runoff and how it will affect summer flows? Additionally, how will the snow-to-precipitation ratio change in the future? What will the snow spatial extension of the snow coverage in the NECSC region? How early snowmelting will impact flows? Finally, how will these changes in high flows, low flows, and seasonal shifts impact both the biological communities and human uses of water that are supported by our past historic hydrologic cycle?  

Preliminary results include the use of the WRF-Hydro Framework for Past, Present and Future River Flow Calculation in the Deerfield Watershed (September - October 2015).

 

Publications: 
Presentations: 
  • AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference, Denver, CO. November 16-19, 2015.
    • Lightning Talk: Flood Response Mapping
    • Poster Presentation: National Hydrologic Simulation Framework for Flood Forecasting
  • American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. December 14-18, 2015.
    • Poster presentation: Advancing the cyberinfrastructure for sustaining high resolution, real-time streamflow and flood dorecasts at a national scale. 
    • Oral presentation: Diagnostic testing and evaluation of the community WRF-Hydro Modeling System for national streamflow prediction application.