Simulated hydrologic response to climate change during the 21st century in New Hampshire

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5143
Prepared in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and Department of Health and Human Services
By:  and 



The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, has developed a hydrologic model to assess the effects of short- and long-term climate change on hydrology in New Hampshire. This report documents the model and datasets developed by using the model to predict how climate change will affect the hydrologic cycle and provide data that can be used by State and local agencies to identify locations that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change in areas across New Hampshire.

Future hydrologic projections were developed from the output of five general circulation models for two future climate scenarios. The scenarios are based on projected future greenhouse gas emissions and estimates of land-use and land-cover change within a projected global economic framework. An evaluation of the possible effect of projected future temperature on modeling of evapotranspiration is summarized to address concerns regarding the implications of the future climate on model parameters that are based on climate variables. The results of the model simulations are hydrologic projections indicating increasing streamflow across the State with large increases in streamflow during winter and early spring and general decreases during late spring and summer. Wide spatial variability in changes to groundwater recharge is projected, with general decreases in the Connecticut River Valley and at high elevations in the northern part of the State and general increases in coastal and lowland areas of the State. In general, total winter snowfall is projected to decrease across the State, but there is a possibility of increasing snow in some locations, particularly during November, February, and March. The simulated future changes in recharge and snowfall vary by watershed across the State. This means that each area of the State could experience very different changes, depending on topography or other factors. Therefore, planning for infrastructure and public safety needs to be flexible in order to address the range of possible outcomes indicated by the various model simulations. The absolute magnitude and timing of the daily streamflows, especially the larger floods, are not considered to be reliably simulated compared to changes in frequency and duration of daily streamflows and changes in accumulated monthly and seasonal streamflow volumes.

Simulated current and future streamflow, groundwater recharge, and snowfall datasets include simulated data derived from the five general circulation models used in this study for a current reference time period and two future time periods. Average monthly streamflow time series datasets are provided for 27 streamgages in New Hampshire. Fourteen of the 27 streamgages associated with daily streamflow time series showed a good calibration. Average monthly groundwater recharge and snowfall time series for the same reference time period and two future time periods are also provided for each of the 467 hydrologic response units that compose the model.

Suggested Citation

Bjerklie, D.M., and Sturtevant, Luke, 2018, Simulated hydrologic response to climate change during the 21st century in New Hampshire: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5143, 53 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Description of Study Area
  • Methods of Study
  • Evaluation of the New Hampshire PRMS Model
  • Simulated Hydrologic Response to Climate Change
  • Related USGS Datasets
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Evaluation of the Jensen-Haise Method of Estimating Potential Evapotranspiration in New England Using the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Simulated hydrologic response to climate change during the 21st century in New Hampshire
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5143
DOI 10.3133/sir20175143
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 53 p.; 4 Tables; Data release
Country United States
State New Hampshire
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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