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Title: Compounding Impacts of Human-Induced Water Stress and Climate Change on Water Availability

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Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Scientific Reports; Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 1
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Mehran, Ali, AghaKouchak, Amir, Nakhjiri, Navid, Stewardson, Michael J., Peel, Murray C., Phillips, Thomas J., Wada, Yoshihide, and Ravalico, Jakin K. Compounding Impacts of Human-Induced Water Stress and Climate Change on Water Availability. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06765-0.
Mehran, Ali, AghaKouchak, Amir, Nakhjiri, Navid, Stewardson, Michael J., Peel, Murray C., Phillips, Thomas J., Wada, Yoshihide, & Ravalico, Jakin K. Compounding Impacts of Human-Induced Water Stress and Climate Change on Water Availability. United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06765-0.
Mehran, Ali, AghaKouchak, Amir, Nakhjiri, Navid, Stewardson, Michael J., Peel, Murray C., Phillips, Thomas J., Wada, Yoshihide, and Ravalico, Jakin K. 2017. "Compounding Impacts of Human-Induced Water Stress and Climate Change on Water Availability". United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06765-0.
title = {Compounding Impacts of Human-Induced Water Stress and Climate Change on Water Availability},
author = {Mehran, Ali and AghaKouchak, Amir and Nakhjiri, Navid and Stewardson, Michael J. and Peel, Murray C. and Phillips, Thomas J. and Wada, Yoshihide and Ravalico, Jakin K.},
abstractNote = {},
doi = {10.1038/s41598-017-06765-0},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = 1,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 7
  • The terrestrial phase of the water cycle can be seriously impacted by water management and human water use behavior (e.g., reservoir operation, and irrigation withdrawals). Here we outline a method for assessing water availability in a changing climate, while explicitly considering anthropogenic water demand scenarios and water supply infrastructure designed to cope with climatic extremes. The framework brings a top-down and bottom-up approach to provide localized water assessment based on local water supply infrastructure and projected water demands. When our framework is applied to southeastern Australia we find that, for some combinations of climatic change and water demand, the regionmore » could experience water stress similar or worse than the epic Millennium Drought. We show considering only the influence of future climate on water supply, and neglecting future changes in water demand and water storage augmentation might lead to opposing perspectives on future water availability. While human water use can significantly exacerbate climate change impacts on water availability, if managed well, it allows societies to react and adapt to a changing climate. The methodology we present offers a unique avenue for linking climatic and hydrologic processes to water resource supply and demand management and other human interactions.« less
  • This paper describes methodology and results of a study by researchers at PNNL contributing to the water sector study of the U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change. The vulnerability of water resources in the conterminous U.S. to climate change in 10-y periods centered on 2030 and 2095--as projected by the HadCM2 general circulation model--was modeled with HUMUS (Hydrologic Unit Model of the U.S.). HUMUS consists of a GIS that provides data on soils, land use and climate to drive the hydrology model Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The modeling was done at the scale of the 2101 8-digit USGS hydrologicmore » unit areas (HUA). Results are aggregated to the 4-digit and 2-digit (Major Water Resource Region, MWRR) scales for various purposes. Daily records of temperature and precipitation for 1961-1990 provided the baseline climate. Water yields (WY)--sum of surface and subsurface runoff--increases from the baseline period over most of the U.S. in 2030 and 2095. In 2030, WY increases in the western US and decreases in the central and southeast regions. Notably, WY increases by 139 mm from baseline in the Pacific NW. Decreased WY is projected for the Lower Mississippi and Texas Gulf basins, driven by higher temperatures and reduced precipitation. The HadCM2 2095 scenario projects a climate significantly wetter than baseline, resulting in WY increases of 38%. WY increases are projected throughout the eastern U.S. WY also increases in the western U.S. Climate change also affects the seasonality of the hydrologic cycle. Early snowmelt is induced in western basins, leading to dramatically increased WYs in late winter and early spring. The simulations were run at current (365 ppm) and elevated (560 ppm) atmospheric CO2 concentrations to account for the potential impacts of the CO2-fertilization effect. The effects of climate change scenario were considerably greater than those due to elevated CO2 but the latter, overall, decreased losses and augmented increases in water yield.« less
  • We used a daily time step simulation model to evaluate the role of temperature and soil water in explaining the relative importance of C{sub 3} and C{sub 4} grasses and to evaluate potential effect of climate change (IPCC {open_quotes}Business-as Usual{close_quotes} scenario) at two sites; one dominated by C{sub 4} grasses (CPER) and the other dominated by a mixture of C{sub 3} and C{sub 4} grasses (CHEY). Under current conditions, both the lengths and the integrated performance of plants during the C{sub 3} growing seasons exceeded the C{sub 4} growing seasons at each site. The activity of C{sub 3} plants atmore » the CPER represented 64% of the total (C3+C4) growing-slightly more favorable for C{sub 3} grasses and substantially more favorable for C{sub 4} grasses. The predicted decrease in precipitation resulted in a larger decrease for C{sub 3} than for C{sub 4} grasses at both sites. Changing both precipitation and temperature produced results very similar to the temperature treatment. Our conclusions are that current scenarios for climate change in the central Great Plains will very likely favor C{sub 4} grasses to the detriment of C{sub 3}s.« less
  • The purpose of this study is to estimate reference evapotranspiration (ET{sub o}), rainfall deficit (rainfall - ET{sub o}) and relative crop yield reduction for a generic crop under climate change conditions for three locations in Puerto Rico: Adjuntas, Mayaguez, and Lajas. Reference evapotranspiration is estimated by the Penman-Monteith method. Rainfall and temperature data were statistically downscaled and evaluated using the DOE/NCAR PCM global circulation model projections for the B1 (low), A2 (mid-high) and A1fi (high) emission scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emission Scenarios. Relative crop yield reductions were estimated from a function dependent watermore » stress factor, which is a function of soil moisture content. Average soil moisture content for the three locations was determined by means of a simple water balance approach. Results from the analysis indicate that the rainy season will become wetter and the dry season will become drier. The 20-year mean 1990-2010 September rainfall excess (i.e., rainfall - ET{sub o} > 0) increased for all scenarios and locations from 149.8 to 356.4 mm for 2080-2100. Similarly, the 20-year average February rainfall deficit (i.e., rainfall - ET{sub o} < 0) decreased from a -26.1 mm for 1990-2010 to -72.1 mm for the year 2080-2100. The results suggest that additional water could be saved during the wet months to offset increased irrigation requirements during the dry months. Relative crop yield reduction did not change significantly under the B1 projected emissions scenario, but increased by approximately 20% during the summer months under the A1fi emissions scenario. Components of the annual water balance for the three climate change scenarios are rainfall, evapotranspiration (adjusted for soil moisture), surface runoff, aquifer recharge and change in soil moisture storage. Under the A1fi scenario, for all locations, annual evapotranspiration decreased owing to lower soil moisture, surface runoff decreased, and aquifer recharge increased. Aquifer recharge increased at all three locations because the majority of recharge occurs during the wet season and the wet season became wetter. This is good news from a groundwater production standpoint. Increasing aquifer recharge also suggests that groundwater levels may increase and this may help to minimize saltwater intrusion near the coasts as sea levels increase, provided that groundwater use is not over-subscribed.« less
  • Texas comprises the eastern portion of the Southwest region, where the convergence of climatological and geopolitical forces has the potential to put extreme stress on water resources. Geologic records indicate that Texas experienced large climate changes on millennial time scales in the past, and over the last thousand years, tree-ring records indicate that there were significant periods of drought in Texas. These droughts were of longer duration than the 1950s 'drought of record' that is commonly used in planning, and they occurred independently of human-induced global climate change. Although there has been a negligible net temperature increase in Texas overmore » the past century, temperatures have increased more significantly over the past three decades. Under essentially all climate model projections, Texas is susceptible to significant climate change in the future. Most projections for the 21st century show that with increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, there will be an increase in temperatures across Texas and a shift to a more arid average climate. Studies agree that Texas will likely become significantly warmer and drier, yet the magnitude, timing, and regional distribution of these changes are uncertain. There is a large uncertainty in the projected changes in precipitation for Texas for the 21st century. In contrast, the more robust projected increase in temperature with its effect on evaporation, which is a dominant component in the region's hydrologic cycle, is consistent with model projections of frequent and extended droughts throughout the state. For these reasons, we recommend that Texas invest resources to investigate and anticipate the impacts of climate change on Texas water resources, with the goal of providing data to inform resource planning. This investment should support development of (1) research programs that provide policy-relevant science; (2) education programs to engage future researchers and policy-makers; and (3) connections between policy-makers, scientists, water resource managers, and other stakeholders. It is proposed that these goals may be achieved through the establishment of a Texas Climate Consortium, consisting of representatives from academia, industry, government agencies, water authorities, and other stakeholders. The mission of this consortium would be to develop the capacity to provide decision makers with the information needed to develop adaptation strategies in the face of future climate change and uncertainty.« less