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Effects of climatic variability on the hydrologic response of a freshwater watershed


A generalized watershed model was used to evaluate the effects of global climate changes on the hydrologic responses of freshwater ecosystems. The Enhanced Trickle Down (ETD) model was applied to W-3 watershed located near Danville, Vermont. Eight years of field data was used to perform model calibration and verification and the results were presented in Nikolaidis et al., (1993). Results from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) general circulation models which simulated the doubling of present day atmospheric CO2 scenarios were used to perform the hydrologic simulations for the W-3 watershed. The results indicate that the W-3 watershed will experience increases in annual evapotranspiration and decreases in annual outflow and soil moisture. Stochastic models that simulate collective statistical properties of meteorological time series were developed to generate data to drive the ETD model in a Monte-Carlo fashion for quantification of the uncertainty in the model predictions due to input time series. This coupled deterministic and stochastic model was used to generate probable scenarios of future hydrology of the W-3 watershed. The predicted evapotranspiration and soil moisture under doubling present day atmospheric CO2 scenarios exceed the present day uncertainty due to input time series by a factor greater than 2. The results indicate that the hydrologic response of the W-3 watershed will be significantly different than its present day response. The Enhanced Trickle Down model can be used to evaluate land surface feedbacks and assessing water quantity management in the event of climate change.

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Nikolaidis, N.P., Hu, H. & Ecsedy, C. Effects of climatic variability on the hydrologic response of a freshwater watershed. Aquatic Science 56, 161–178 (1994).

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Key words

  • Global climate change
  • modeling
  • freshwater watersheds
  • uncertainty