Reservoir management under predictable climate variability and change

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The potential effects of climate change on future water budget components and streamflow in the Mississippi River (Ontario) are assessed. Analyses of historic hydrometric data indicate an increasing trend in winter streamflows due to the rising winter air temperatures across the region over the latter half of the 20th century. These temperatures have resulted in reduced snow accumulation and earlier spring snowmelt. Projected future climate data are developed using the second generation Coupled Global Climate Model and downscaled using the change factor method for the Mississippi River watershed (Ontario). The projected future climate data are then used as input to a calibrated hydrologic model for simulation of future water balance and streamflows in this river basin. These simulations predict a gradual annual rate of change of: 0.1% increase in total precipitation; 0.2% increase in rainfall; 0.7% decrease in snowfall; 0.2% increase in potential evapotranspiration; 0.1% decrease in soil moisture; 1.4% increase in water deficit; 0.5% increase in streamflow during winter months; and 0.3% decrease in summer streamflows. Cyclic pattern analysis of the historic streamflow records suggests the existence of pronounced 3-year and 12-year cycles, providing short-term streamflow forecasting opportunities for optimum reservoir management operations during the wet-year/dry-year cycles.

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