Ecohydrologic Impacts of Climate and Land Use Changes on Watershed Systems: A Multi-Scale Assessment for Policy

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Maintaining flows and quality of water resources is critical to support ecosystem services and consumptive needs. Understanding impacts of changes in climate and land use on ecohydrologic processes in a watershed is vital to sustaining water resources for multiple uses. This study completes a continental and regional scale assessment using statistical and simulation modeling to investigate ecohydrologic impacts within watershed systems.

Watersheds across the continental United States have diverse hydrogeomorphic characters, mean temperatures, soil moistures, precipitation and evaporation patterns that influence runoff processes. Changes in climate affect runoff by impacting available soil moisture, evaporation, precipitation and vegetative patterns. A one percent increase in annual soil moisture may cause a five percent increase in runoff in watersheds across the continent. Low soil moisture and high temperatures influence runoff patterns in specific regions. Spring runoff is increased by the influence Spring soil moisture, Winter and Spring evaporation, and Winter and Spring evaporation. Spring runoff is decreased by increases in Winter and Spring temperatures and increases in the vegetation index. Winter runoff is affected by maximum vegetative index, temperature, soil moisture, evaporation and precipitation. Contributing factors to runoff are influenced by geomorphic and seasonal variations requiring strategies that are site-specific and use system-wide information.

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