Alan F. Hamlet, Philip W. Mote, Dennis P. Lettenmaier JISAO/CSES Climate Impacts Group Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington.
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Alan F. Hamlet, Philip W. Mote, Dennis P. Lettenmaier JISAO/CSES Climate Impacts Group Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington Hydrologic Implications of Climate Change for the Western U.S.
Example of a flawed water planning study: The Colorado River Compact of 1922 The Colorado River Compact of 1922 divided the use of waters of the Colorado River System between the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin. It apportioned **in perpetuity** to the Upper and Lower Basin, respectively, the beneficial consumptive use of 7.5 million acre feet (maf) of water per annum. It also provided that the Upper Basin will not cause the flow of the river at Lee Ferry to be depleted below an aggregate of 7.5 maf for any period of ten consecutive years. The Mexican Treaty of 1944 allotted to Mexico a guaranteed annual quantity of 1.5 maf. **These amounts, when combined, exceed the river's long-term average annual flow**.
Despite a general awareness of these issues in the water planning community, there is growing evidence that future climate variability will not look like the past and that current planning activities, which frequently use a limited observed streamflow record to represent climate variability, are in danger of repeating the same kind of mistakes made more than 80 years ago in forging the Colorado River Compact. Long-term planning and specific agreements influenced by this planning (such as long-term transboundary agreements) should be informed by the best and most complete climate information available, but frequently they are not. What’s the Problem?
Image Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, W. O. Field, B. F. Molnia http://nsidc.org/data/glacier_photo/special_high_res.html Aug, 13, 1941Aug, 31, 2004 Recession of the Muir Glacier
DJF Temp (°C) NDJFM Precip (mm) PNW CACRB GB Cool Season Climate of the Western U.S.
Natural Flow Columbia River at The Dalles Patterns of ENSO Related Variability About a Shifting Long- Term Mean Seem to be Robust in the 20 th Century Red = Warm ENSO, Green = ENSO Neutral, Blue = Cool ENSO
Global Climate Change Scenarios and Hydrologic Impacts for the PNW
Consensus Forecasts of Temperature and Precipitation Changes from IPCC AR4 GCMs
Pacific Northwest °C 0.4-1.0°C 0.9-2.4°C 1.2-5.5°C Observed 20th century variability +1.7°C +0.7°C +3.2°C
Pacific Northwest % -1 to +3% -1 to +9% -2 to +21% Observed 20th century variability +1% +2% +6%
Will Global Warming be “Warm and Wet” or “Warm and Dry”? Answer: Probably BOTH! Natural Flow Columbia River at The Dalles
Regionally Averaged Cool Season Precipitation Anomalies PRECIP
Snow Model Schematic of VIC Hydrologic Model and Energy Balance Snow Model
The warmer locations are most sensitive to warming +2.3C, +6.8% winter precip 2060s
April 1 SWE (mm) 20 th Century Climate“2040s” (+1.7 C)“2060s” (+ 2.25 C) -3.6%-11.5% Changes in Simulated April 1 Snowpack for the Canadian and U.S. portions of the Columbia River basin (% change relative to current climate) -21.4%-34.8%
Mote P.W.,Hamlet A.F., Clark M.P., Lettenmaier D.P., 2005, Declining mountain snowpack in western North America, BAMS, 86 (1): 39-49 Trends in April 1 SWE 1950-1997
Trend %/yr DJF avg T (C) Trend %/yr Overall Trends in April 1 SWE from 1947-2003
Trend %/yr DJF avg T (C) Trend %/yr Temperature Related Trends in April 1 SWE from 1947-2003
Trend %/yr DJF avg T (C) Trend %/yr Precipitation Related Trends in April 1 SWE from 1947-2003
Simulated Changes in Natural Runoff Timing in the Naches River Basin Associated with 2 C Warming Impacts: Increased winter flow Earlier and reduced peak flows Reduced summer flow volume Reduced late summer low flow
Tmin Tmax PNW CACRB GB Regionally Averaged Temperature Trends Over the Western U.S. 1916-2003
X 20 2003 / X 20 1915 DJF Avg Temp (C) Simulated Changes in the 20-year Flood Associated with 20 th Century Warming X 20 2003 / X 20 1915
Regionally Averaged Cool Season Precipitation Anomalies PRECIP
DJF Avg Temp (C) 20-year Flood for “1973-2003” Compared to “1916-2003” for a Constant Late 20 th Century Temperature Regime X 20 ’73-’03 / X 20 ’16-’03
Natural Flow Columbia River at The Dalles, OR Effects of ENSO on Cool Season Climate in the PNW Red = warm ENSO, Green = ENSO neutral, Blue = cool ENSO
DJF Avg Temp (C) X 100 nENSO / X 100 2003X 100 cENSO / X 100 2003X 100 wENSO / X 100 2003 X 100 nENSO / X 100 2003X 100 cENSO / X 100 2003X 100 wENSO / X 100 2003
Summary of Flooding Impacts Rain Dominant Basins: Possible increases in flooding due to increased precipitation variability, but no significant change from warming alone. Mixed Rain and Snow Basins Along the Coast: Strong increases due to warming and increased precipitation variability (both effects increase flood risk) Inland Snowmelt Dominant Basins: Relatively small overall changes because effects of warming (decreased risks) and increased precipitation variability (increased risks) are in the opposite directions.
1910 1930 1950 1970 1990 2010 0 0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 Year 8.0 7.0 1999 2001 2000 2003 2002 Annual area (ha × 10 6 ) affected by MPB in BC 2005 9.0 2004 Bark Beetle Outbreak in British Columbia (Figure courtesy Allen Carroll)
Temperature thresholds for coldwater fish in freshwater +1.7 °C +2.3 °C Warming temperatures will increasingly stress coldwater fish in the warmest parts of our region –A monthly average temperature of 68ºF (20ºC) has been used as an upper limit for resident cold water fish habitat, and is known to stress Pacific salmon during periods of freshwater migration, spawning, and rearing
Changes in water quantity and timing Reductions in summer flow and water supply Increases in drought frequency and severity Changes in hydrologic extremes Changing flood risk (up or down) Summer low flows Changes in groundwater supplies Changes in water quality Increasing water temperature Changes in sediment loading (up or down) Changes in nutrient loadings (up or down) Changes in land cover via disturbance Forest fire Insects Disease Invasive species Impact Pathways Associated with Climate
Changes in energy resources and design Hydropower Energy demand “Green” building design Changes in outdoor recreation Tourism Skiing Camping Boating Changes in engineering design standards Road construction Storm water systems Flood plain definitions Building design Land slide risks Impact Pathways Associated with Climate
Changes in transportation corridors Changing risk of flooding, avalanche or debris flows Sea level rise Coastal engineering Land use planning Human health risks Temperature and water-related health risks Impact Pathways Associated with Climate
Anticipate changes. Accept that the future climate will be substantially different than the past. Use scenario based planning to evaluate options rather than the historic record. Expect surprises and plan for flexibility and robustness in the face of uncertain changes rather than counting on one approach. Plan for the long haul. Where possible, make adaptive responses and agreements “self tending” to avoid repetitive costs of intervention as impacts increase over time. Approaches to Adaptation and Planning
Some Thoughts Regarding Civil Engineering Practice: The fundamental concept of fixed design standards related to water is unlikely to produce satisfactory outcomes in a rapidly evolving climate system. New design approaches that emphasize robustness in the face of uncertainty and/or adaptability in the face of rapid change will be needed. Academic research is playing a significant role in shaping future engineering practice associated with climate change adaptation, but academic training programs are adjusting themselves much more slowly. How can we best prepare our students to address the storm we know is coming?