Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2017-204
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Climate change and climate-driven disturbances in the San Juan River sub-basin of the Colorado River
Katrina E. Bennett1, Theodore Bohn2,3, Kurt Solander1, Nathan G. McDowell1, Chonggang Xu1, Enrique Vivoni3,4, and Richard S. Middleton1 1Earth and Environmental Sciences, Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos, NM, 87545
2Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287
3School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287
4School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287
Abstract. Accelerated climate change and associated forest disturbances in the Southwestern USA are anticipated to have substantial impacts on regional water resources. Few studies have quantified the impact of both climate change and land cover disturbances on water balances at the basin scale, and none at the regional scale. In this work, we evaluate the impacts of forest disturbances and climate change for a headwater basin to the Colorado River, the San Juan River watershed, using a robustly-calibrated (Nash Sutcliff 0.80) hydrologic model run with updated formulations that improve estimates of evapotranspiration for semi-arid regions. Our results show that future disturbances will have a substantial impact on streamflow with implications for water resource management. Our findings are in contradiction with conventional thinking that forest disturbances reduce ET and increase streamflow. In this study, annual average regional streamflow under the coupled climate-disturbances scenarios is at least 6–11 % lower than those scenarios accounting for climate change alone, and for forested zones of the San Juan River basin streamflow is 15–21 % lower. The monthly signals of altered streamflow point to an emergent streamflow pattern related to changes in forests of the disturbed systems. Exacerbated reductions of mean and low flows under disturbance scenarios indicate a high risk of lower water availability for forested headwater systems to the Colorado River basin. These findings also indicate that explicit representation of land cover disturbances is required in modelling efforts that consider the impact of climate change on water resources.

Citation: Bennett, K. E., Bohn, T., Solander, K., McDowell, N. G., Xu, C., Vivoni, E., and Middleton, R. S.: Climate change and climate-driven disturbances in the San Juan River sub-basin of the Colorado River, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2017-204, in review, 2017.
Katrina E. Bennett et al.
Katrina E. Bennett et al.
Katrina E. Bennett et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 423 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)

HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
378 37 8 423 3 10

Views and downloads (calculated since 24 Apr 2017)

Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 24 Apr 2017)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 423 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)

Thereof 415 with geography defined and 8 with unknown origin.

Country # Views %
  • 1

Saved

Discussed

Latest update: 23 May 2017
Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
We applied the Variable Infiltration Capacity hydrologic model to examine scenarios of change under climate and landscape disturbances in the San Juan River basin, a sub-watershed of the Colorado River basin. Climate change coupled with landscape disturbances lead to reduce streamflow in this watershed. Disturbances are expected to be widespread in this region, therefore accounting for these changes within the context of climate change is imperative for water resource planning.
We applied the Variable Infiltration Capacity hydrologic model to examine scenarios of change...
Share