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Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5077

Integrated Watershed-Scale Response to Climate Change for Selected Basins Across the United States

By Steven L. Markstrom, Lauren E. Hay, Christian D. Ward-Garrison, John C. Risley, William A. Battaglin, David M. Bjerklie, Katherine J. Chase, Daniel E. Christiansen, Robert W. Dudley, Randall J. Hunt, Kathryn M. Koczot, Mark C. Mastin, R. Steven Regan, Roland J. Viger, Kevin C. Vining, and John F. Walker

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (14.1 MB)Abstract

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) evaluated the hydrologic response to different projected carbon emission scenarios of the 21st century using a hydrologic simulation model. This study involved five major steps: (1) setup, calibrate and evaluated the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) model in 14 basins across the United States by local USGS personnel; (2) acquire selected simulated carbon emission scenarios from the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project; (3) statistical downscaling of these scenarios to create PRMS input files which reflect the future climatic conditions of these scenarios; (4) generate PRMS projections for the carbon emission scenarios for the 14 basins; and (5) analyze the modeled hydrologic response. This report presents an overview of this study, details of the methodology, results from the 14 basin simulations, and interpretation of these results.

A key finding is that the hydrological response of the different geographical regions of the United States to potential climate change may be different, depending on the dominant physical processes of that particular region. Also considered is the tremendous amount of uncertainty present in the carbon emission scenarios and how this uncertainty propagates through the hydrologic simulations.

First posted March 16, 2012

For additional information:
USGS Branch of Regional Research, Central Region
Box 25046, Mail Stop 418
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Markstrom, S.L., Hay, L.E., Ward-Garrison, C.D., Risley, J.C., Battaglin, W.A., Bjerklie, D.M., Chase, K.J., Christiansen, D.E., Dudley, R.W., Hunt, R.J., Koczot, K.M., Mastin, M.C., Regan, R.S., Viger, R.J., Vining, K.C., and Walker, J.F., 2012, Integrated watershed-scale response to climate change for selected basins across the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5077, 143 p.




Study Sites

Description of the Simulation Models Used in this Study


Assumptions and Limitations

Precipitation Runoff Modeling System Projections by Application

Integrated Watershed Scale Response to Climate Change for Selected Basins Across the United States



References Cited


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