skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Sensitivity of Regulated Flow Regimes to Climate Change in the Western United States

Abstract

Water management activities or flow regulations modify water fluxes at the land surface and affect water resources in space and time. We hypothesize that flow regulations change the sensitivity of river flow to climate change with respect to unmanaged water resources. Quantifying these changes in sensitivity could help elucidate the impacts of water management at different spatiotemporal scales and inform climate adaptation decisions. In this study, we compared the emergence of significant changes in natural and regulated river flow regimes across the Western United States from simulations driven by multiple climate models and scenarios. We find that significant climate change-induced alterations in natural flow do not cascade linearly through water management activities. At the annual time scale, 50% of the Hydrologic Unit Code 4 (HUC4) sub-basins over the Western U.S. regions tend to have regulated flow regime more sensitive to the climate change than natural flow regime. Seasonality analyses show that the sensitivity varies remarkably across the seasons. We also find that the sensitivity is related to the level of water management. For 35% of the HUC4 sub-basins with the highest level of water management, the summer and winter flows tend to show a heightened sensitivity to climate change duemore » to the complexity of joint reservoir operations. We further demonstrate that the impacts of considering water management in models are comparable to those that arises from uncertainties across climate models and emission scenarios. This prompts further climate adaptation studies research about nonlinearity effects of climate change through water management activities.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1424834
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-126508
Journal ID: ISSN 1525-755X; KP1703030
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Hydrometeorology; Journal Volume: 19; Journal Issue: 3
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Zhou, Tian, Voisin, Nathalie, Leng, Guoyong, Huang, Maoyi, and Kraucunas, Ian. Sensitivity of Regulated Flow Regimes to Climate Change in the Western United States. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1175/JHM-D-17-0095.1.
Zhou, Tian, Voisin, Nathalie, Leng, Guoyong, Huang, Maoyi, & Kraucunas, Ian. Sensitivity of Regulated Flow Regimes to Climate Change in the Western United States. United States. doi:10.1175/JHM-D-17-0095.1.
Zhou, Tian, Voisin, Nathalie, Leng, Guoyong, Huang, Maoyi, and Kraucunas, Ian. Thu . "Sensitivity of Regulated Flow Regimes to Climate Change in the Western United States". United States. doi:10.1175/JHM-D-17-0095.1.
@article{osti_1424834,
title = {Sensitivity of Regulated Flow Regimes to Climate Change in the Western United States},
author = {Zhou, Tian and Voisin, Nathalie and Leng, Guoyong and Huang, Maoyi and Kraucunas, Ian},
abstractNote = {Water management activities or flow regulations modify water fluxes at the land surface and affect water resources in space and time. We hypothesize that flow regulations change the sensitivity of river flow to climate change with respect to unmanaged water resources. Quantifying these changes in sensitivity could help elucidate the impacts of water management at different spatiotemporal scales and inform climate adaptation decisions. In this study, we compared the emergence of significant changes in natural and regulated river flow regimes across the Western United States from simulations driven by multiple climate models and scenarios. We find that significant climate change-induced alterations in natural flow do not cascade linearly through water management activities. At the annual time scale, 50% of the Hydrologic Unit Code 4 (HUC4) sub-basins over the Western U.S. regions tend to have regulated flow regime more sensitive to the climate change than natural flow regime. Seasonality analyses show that the sensitivity varies remarkably across the seasons. We also find that the sensitivity is related to the level of water management. For 35% of the HUC4 sub-basins with the highest level of water management, the summer and winter flows tend to show a heightened sensitivity to climate change due to the complexity of joint reservoir operations. We further demonstrate that the impacts of considering water management in models are comparable to those that arises from uncertainties across climate models and emission scenarios. This prompts further climate adaptation studies research about nonlinearity effects of climate change through water management activities.},
doi = {10.1175/JHM-D-17-0095.1},
journal = {Journal of Hydrometeorology},
number = 3,
volume = 19,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2018},
month = {Thu Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2018}
}