Hydrological response to climate warming: The Upper Feather River Watershed

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Huang, Guobiao, Kadir, T., Chung, F.
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The hydrological response and sensitivity to climate warming of a snow-dominated watershed, the Upper Feather River Basin (UFRB) in Northern California, were evaluated and quantified using observed changes, detrending, and specified temperature-based sensitivity simulations. The non-stationarity in historical data was detected with trend analysis and the warming trends in historical forcing data were removed by detrending. The physically-based and spatially-distributed Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) model was used to force uniform climate warming (+1 °C to +4 °C) to investigate hydrologic sensitivity to temperature increase. Six Global Climate Models (GCMs) with two IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), A2 and B1, were selected to represent a range of climate change projections. These projected changes were then applied to the detrended historical forcing data to simulate climate change effects in a detrended, quasi-stationary setting. The results indicate that: (1) historical annual precipitation and streamflow have no trends, but air temperature and seasonal streamflow have statistically significant trends. (2) By detrending temperature, the strong trends in seasonal streamflow are virtually eliminated. (3) Hydrologic Sensitivity to climate warming includes small changes in annual streamflow and actual evapotranspiration, significant changes in streamflow timing and increased frequency and magnitude in extreme flows. (4) All GCM projections lead to negative impact on water supply.


Huang, G., T. Kadir, and F. Chung. 2012. Hydrological response to climate warming: The Upper Feather River Watershed. Journal of Hydrology 426–427:138–150.