New Maps Detail Areas Sensitive to Reduced Summer Streamflows as a Result of Climate Warming
Reduced summer streamflows due to climate warming is a major issue facing resource managers and water users across the western United States. Summer stream flows in the Pacific Northwest are largely derived from melting snow and groundwater discharge. As the climate warms, diminishing snowpack and earlier snowmelt will cause reductions in summer streamflow. For planning purposes, simulations of future conditions need to capture smaller scale topographic controls and other important watershed processes. Deep aquifers, for example, play an important role in mediating streamflow response to climate change, so groundwater needs to be explicitly incorporated into sensitivity assessments. To meet this need, scientists developed and applied an analytical framework for characterizing summer streamflow sensitivity to a change in the timing and magnitude of recharge in a spatially explicit fashion that incorporates groundwater processes. They then developed detailed maps of low flow sensitivity for Oregon and Washington landscapes that provide a robust, practical, and scalable approach for assessing risk to water resources at the landscape scale. These maps are being used by resource planners in the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
Forest Service Partners