Response surfaces of vulnerability to climate change: the Colorado River Basin, the High Plains, and California

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Foti, Romano, Ramirez, Jorge A., Brown, Thomas C.
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We quantify the vulnerability of water supply to shortage for the Colorado River Basin and basins of the High Plains and California and assess the sensitivity of their water supply system to future changes in the statistical variability of supply and demand. We do so for current conditions and future socio-economic scenarios within a probabilistic framework that incorporates the inherent uncertainties in the drivers of vulnerability. Our analysis indicates that the most sensitive basins to both current and future variability of demand and supply are the Central California and the San Joaquin-Tulare basins. Large sensitivity is also found for the Kansas basin of the High Plains. Within the Colorado River Basin, the Lower Colorado and Gila were found to be the most vulnerable and sensitive sub-basins. By accounting for future uncertainty within the above probabilistic framework, this study unveils and isolates the individual responses of a given basin to changes in the statistical properties of demand and supply and offers a valuable tool for the identification of policy strategies and adaptation measures.


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