Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Mountain Water Resources in the Western U.S.
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).
KeywordsClimate variability and change Regional climate modeling Water resources impacts Western U.S.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Dai, A., Washington, W. M, and Meehl, G. A. (2002). The ACPI climate change simulations. Climatic Change (submitted).Google Scholar
- Grell, G., Dudhia, J., and Stauffer, D. R. (1993). “A description of the fifth generation Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5).” NCAR Technical Note, NCAR/TN-398+IA, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
- IPCC (2001). “Climate change 2001: The scientific basis.” Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Kistler, R., Kalnay, E., Collins, W., Saha, S., White, G., Woollen, J., Chelliah, M., Ebisuzaki, W., Kanamitsu, M, Kousky, V., van den Dool, H., Jenne, R., and Fiorino, M. (2001). The NCEP-NCAR 50-year reanalyses: Monthly means CD-ROM and documentation. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 82, 247–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Leung, L. R., and Qian, Y. (2003). The sensitivity of precipitation and snowpack simulations to spatial resolution via nesting in regions of complex terrain. Journal of Hydrometeorology (accepted).Google Scholar
- Leung, L. R., Qian, Y., Bian, X., Washington, W M., Han, J., and Roads, J. O. (2003a). Mid-century ensemble regional climate change scenarios for the Western United States. Climatic Change (accepted).Google Scholar
- Leung, L. R., Qian, Y, and Bian, X. (2003c). Hydroclimate of the western United States based on observations and regional climate simulation of 1981–2000. Part I: Seasonal statistics. Journal of Climate (in press).Google Scholar
- Leung, L. R., Qian, Y, and Bian, X., and Hunt, A. (2003d). Hydroclimate of the western United States based on observations and regional climate simulation of 1981–2000. Part II: Mesoscale ENSO anomalies. Journal of Climate (in press).Google Scholar
- Leung, L. R., Qian, Y, Han, J., and Roads, J. O. (2003e). Intercomparison of global reanalyses and regional simulations of cold season water budgets in the Western U.S. Journal of Hydrometeorology (accepted).Google Scholar
- Mile, E. L., Snover, A. K., Hamlet, A. F., Callahan, B., and Fluharty, D. (2000). Pacific Northwest regional assessment: The impacts of climate variability and climate change on the water resources of the Columbia River Basin. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36, 399–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Payne, J. T., Wood, A. W, Hamlet, A. E, Palmer, R. N., and Lettenmaier, D. P. (2002). Mitigating the effects of climate change on the water resources of the Columbia River basin. Climatic Change (submitted).Google Scholar
- VanRheenen, N. T., Wood, A. W., Palmer, R. N., and Lettenmaier, D. P. (2002). Potential implications of the PCM climate change scenarios for Sacramento-San Joaquin River basin hydrology and water resources. Climate Change (submitted).Google Scholar