Simulating streamflow and the effects of projected climate change on the Savage River, Maryland, USA

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The Savage River in western Maryland and its associated reservoir and watershed serves many purposes including recreation, drinking water supply, and auxiliary water supply for Washington DC. Streamflow on the Savage River was modeled using a simple hydrologic model and validated with historical streamflow observations. Future projected climate data were used to drive the model to assess the impact of temperature and precipitation changes on future streamflow. Winter streamflow is projected to increase, while spring, summer, and fall streamflow are projected to decrease. Annual streamflow totals show a slight negative trend over the coming century. Future changes in precipitation are more influential on future streamflow during the winter while temperature may be more important during the summer and fall. On an annual basis, by the year 2098, the impacts of temperature and precipitation will essentially cancel each other out resulting in only a small negative trend in annual streamflow. Increased streamflow during the winter months may not be able to compensate for decreased flow during the remainder of the year which raises concerns about the ability of the reservoir to supply water during future droughts.

Keywords: Chesapeake Bay, climate change, hydrologic model, Maryland, Savage River, streamflow

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