Potential impacts of global climate change on Tijuana River Watershed hydrology - an initial analysis

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Das, Tapash, Dettinger, Michael D., and Cayan, Daniel R.
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During the past year, an investigation has been initiated regarding how future climate changes may impact the hydrology of the Tijuana River Watershed – a binational watershed. The study has used gridded observed daily precipitation and temperatures and downscaled daily precipitation and temperature projections from three global climate models (GCM) to drive the VIC macroscale hydrologic model. Sensitivity analysis using VIC suggests about 2% reduction of runoff for each 1% reduction in precipitation. A 1oC increase in average temperature produces about 3% reduction of runoff. All three GCM simulations yield annual warming, with end-of-century temperature increases from approximately +1oC under a lower emission scenario in the less responsive PCM1 to +3oC in a higher emission scenario with the more responsive GFDL model. Climate projections suggest greater warming in the spring and summer months ranging between 2oC to 3oC under the higher emission scenario. Two of the three GCM simulations yield more frequent summer drying as gauged by VIC simulated soil moisture in the twenty-first century under the higher emission scenario. Summer soil moisture declines most, and most rapidly, in the later part of the twenty-first century. This initial evaluation provides perhaps the first direct estimates of the climate change impacts on the Tijuana River Watershed. However, transforming these results into a more useable projections and impacts will be a task for the future and will require collaboration and interaction between local stakeholders and the researchers.


Das, T., M. D. Dettinger, and D. R. Cayan. 2010. Potential impacts of global climate change on Tijuana River Watershed hydrology - an initial analysis. Sustainable Solutions Institute, University of California, San Diego.