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Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Mountain Water Resources in the Western U.S.

  • L. Ruby Leung
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 23)

Abstract

The western U.S. derives its water resources predominantly from cold season precipitation and storage in snowpack along the narrow Cascades and Sierra ranges, and the Rocky Mountains. Hydroclimate is modulated by the diverse orographic features across the region. Precipitation and runoff generally peak during winter and spring respectively, whereas water demand is highest during the summer. Such phase differences between water supply and demand create a necessity for water management, which is reflected by major developments of reservoirs and dams that regulate irrigation, hydropower production, and flood control during the past 50 years. Because water resources have been essential to the economic development and environmental well being of the western states, it raises concerns when recent studies suggest that global warming may exert significant impacts on snowpack and streamflow, which may seriously affect water resources in the western U.S. in the 21st century (e.g. Leung and Ghan 1999; Leung and Wigmosta 1999; Mile et al. 2000; Leung et al. 2003a; Miller and Kim 2000).

Keywords

Climate variability and change Regional climate modeling Water resources impacts Western U.S. 

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Copyright information

© Springer. Printed in the Netherlands 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Ruby Leung
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA

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