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Circular 1331

Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective

By Levi D. Brekke, Julie E. Kiang, J. Rolf Olsen, Roger S. Pulwarty, David A. Raff, D. Phil Turnipseed, Robert S. Webb, and Kathleen D. White


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Many challenges, including climate change, face the Nation’s water managers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has provided estimates of how climate may change, but more understanding of the processes driving the changes, the sequences of the changes, and the manifestation of these global changes at different scales could be beneficial. Since the changes will likely affect fundamental drivers of the hydrological cycle, climate change may have a large impact on water resources and water resources managers.

The purpose of this interagency report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to explore strategies to improve water management by tracking, anticipating, and responding to climate change. This report describes the existing and still needed underpinning science crucial to addressing the many impacts of climate change on water resources management.

First posted January 16, 2009

For additional information contact:
Chief, Office of Surface Water
U.S. Geological Survey
415 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, Virginia 20192

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Brekke, L.D., Kiang, J.E., Olsen, J.R., Pulwarty, R.S., Raff, D.A., Turnipseed, D.P., Webb, R.S., and White, K.D., 2009, Climate change and water resources management—A federal perspective: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1331, 65 p. (Also available online at



Tracking Climate Change Impacts

Anticipating Climate Change: Available Climate Information for Decisionmaking in Long-Range Planning

Anticipating Climate Change: Approaches for Decisionmaking

Responding to Climate Change: Adaptation Options .

Opportunities To Improve Planning Capabilities

References Cited

Appendix A. Paleoclimate Reconstruction of Past Droughts and Floods

Appendix B. Downscaling General Circulation Model Results

Appendix C. Recent Reclamation and USACE Planning Applications Involving the Use of Expanded Climate Information Sets

Appendix D. Glossary

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