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Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5024

Prepared in cooperation with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission; the Ohio Water Development Authority; the City of Columbus, Ohio; and Del-Co Water Company

Hydrologic Effects of Potential Changes in Climate, Water Use, and Land Cover in the Upper Scioto River Basin, Ohio

By Andrew Ebner, G.F. Koltun, and Chad J. Ostheimer

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.72 MB)Abstract

This report presents the results of a study to provide information on the hydrologic effects of potential 21st-century changes in climate, water use, and land cover in the Upper Scioto River Basin, Ohio (from Circleville, Ohio, to the headwaters). A precipitation-runoff model, calibrated on the basis of historical climate and streamflow data, was used to simulate the effects of climate change on streamflows and reservoir water levels at several locations in the basin. Two levels of simulations were done. The first level of simulation (level 1) accounted only for anticipated 21st-century changes in climate and operations of three City of Columbus upground reservoirs located in northwest Delaware County, Ohio. The second level of simulation (level 2) accounted for development-driven changes in land cover and water use in addition to changes in climate and reservoir operations.

A statistical change-factor approach was used to construct future climate time series that were used in the precipitation-runoff model to compute time series of future streamflows and reservoir water levels. Monthly change factors were computed by determining differences or fractional changes between baseline historical climate time series and future climate time series consisting of outputs from selected global climate models that were included in the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3). Eight sets of change factors were determined on the basis of outputs from four global climate models, each of which was run under two greenhouse-gas scenarios (the “A1b” and “A2” scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th assessment). The 4 global climate models whose data were used in this study were selected to represent a wide range of potential climate outcomes as compared to the entire range of potential climate outcomes associated with the 16 global climate models represented in the CMIP3 multimodel dataset.

Future land-cover and water-use data were estimated for use in the level-2 precipitation-runoff simulations to account for development-driven changes in land cover and water use. Future land-cover characteristics were estimated for selected future years based on population projections and zoning plans for communities in the basin. Future water-use data for major water suppliers and wastewater-treatment facilities were estimated from current per capita water use, population projections for 2035, and population projections for 2090 assuming full build-out. A statistical change-factor-based approach was used to estimate future water-use characteristics by major water suppliers and wastewater-treatment facilities on the basis of reference-period historical water uses. Annual change factors that were determined for future years other than 2035 and 2090 (when the change factors could be explicitly computed) were estimated by interpolating or extrapolating linearly in time. Water uses by entities other than major water suppliers and wastewater-treatment facilities were assumed to remain unchanged because of uncertainty about if and (or) how they might change.

Results from the level-1 simulations were analyzed primarily to facilitate evaluation of climate-driven temporal changes in annual, seasonal, and monthly streamflow and water-level characteristics, as well as in maximum and minimum 7-, 30-, and 180-day average streamflow and reservoir water levels. Results from the level-2 simulations were analyzed to help evaluate and contrast (relative to level-1 results) the effects of the added development-related factors on maximums and minimum 7-, 30-, and 180-day average streamflows and reservoir water levels and duration characteristics of 7- and 30-day average streamflows and reservoir water levels. Results for 12 stream locations and 5 reservoirs in the Upper Scioto River Basin are presented primarily as a series of plots.

Although it is beyond the scope of this study to address results in detail for each model-output location, selected results are discussed to illustrate potential uses and interpretations of the graph products provided in this report. In addition, general trends and patterns in streamflow and water-level characteristics are identified where possible.

First posted April 8, 2015

  • Appendixes A-G PDF
    Appendix A - Description of the precipitation-runoff model. (2.7 MB)

    Appendix B - Plots of ensemble means of level-1 simulated annual mean streamflows and water levels as a function of time. (129 KB

    Appendix C - Boxplots of the medians of site-, month-, and emission-specific level-1 ensemble mean streamflows and water levels as a function of epoch. (1.56 MB)

    Appendix D - Plots of maximum and minimum 7-, 30-, and 180-day average streamflows and water levels as a function of plotting year. (905 KB)

    Appendix E - Plots of seasonal maximum and minimum 7-, 30-, and 180-day average streamflows and water levels as a function of plotting year. (1.63 MB)

    Appendix F - Plots of simulated level-2 7-day running average streamflows and water levels as a function of exceedance quantile. (214 KB)

    Appendix G - Plots of simulated level-2 30-day running average streamflows and water levels as a function of exceedance quantile. (226 KB)

For additional information, contact:
Director, Ohio Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
6480 Doubletree Ave
Columbus, OH 43229–1111
http://oh.water.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Ebner, Andrew, Koltun, G.F., and Ostheimer, C.J., 2015, Hydrologic effects of potential changes in climate, water use, and land cover in the Upper Scioto River Basin, Ohio: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5024, 34 p., 7 app., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155024.

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)



Contents

Acknowledgments

Abstract

Introduction

Precipitation-Runoff Model of the Upper Scioto River Basin

Methods Used to Analyze Precipitation-Runoff Model Results

Results and Discussion

Limitations

References Cited


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