Climatic Change

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 77-104

First online:

Water Budgets of Two Watersheds in Different Climatic Zones under Projected Climate Warming

  • Omid MohseniAffiliated withSt. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota
  • , Heinz G. StefanAffiliated withSt. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota

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A deterministic monthly runoff model (MINRUN96)was applied to watersheds with substantially differentclimates. One watershed is in the north-central U.S.(Minnesota) and is heavily timbered. The other is inthe south-central U.S. (Oklahoma) and is mainlycovered with pastures and agricultural crops. Runoffwas simulated for past historical climate and twoprojected 2 × CO2 climate scenarios. The output ofGeneral Circulation Models (GCMs) was used to specifythe two 2 × CO2 climate scenarios. One GCM is theGoddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) model andthe other is from the Canadian Center of ClimateModelling (CCC). In the northern watershed morerunoff is projected to occur in winter under a warmerclimate and less runoff in spring. About 80%increase in fall runoff and 20% decrease in soilmoisture in June and July is projected for thesouthern watershed. When runoff simulations for the2 × CO2 climate scenarios were compared to pastrunoff, it was apparent that the change in runoffdepended on both the season and the magnitude of theprecipitation change. An increase in springprecipitation caused a significant increase in directrunoff, whereas an increase in fall precipitationcaused only a slight increase in total runoff. Alsothe runoff-precipitation relationship in the warm andseasonally dry southern watershed is very differentfrom that in the temperate and humid climate of thenorth. Therefore, runoff responses to projectedclimate change are substantially different in the tworegions.