Effects of baseline conditions on the simulated hydrologic response to projected climate change

Earth Interactions
By: , and 



Changes in temperature and precipitation projected from five general circulation models, using one late-twentieth-century and three twenty-first-century emission scenarios, were downscaled to three different baseline conditions. Baseline conditions are periods of measured temperature and precipitation data selected to represent twentieth-century climate. The hydrologic effects of the climate projections are evaluated using the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS), which is a watershed hydrology simulation model. The Almanor Catchment in the North Fork of the Feather River basin, California, is used as a case study. Differences and similarities between PRMS simulations of hydrologic components (i.e., snowpack formation and melt, evapotranspiration, and streamflow) are examined, and results indicate that the selection of a specific time period used for baseline conditions has a substantial effect on some, but not all, hydrologic variables. This effect seems to be amplified in hydrologic variables, which accumulate over time, such as soil-moisture content. Results also indicate that uncertainty related to the selection of baseline conditions should be evaluated using a range of different baseline conditions. This is particularly important for studies in basins with highly variable climate, such as the Almanor Catchment.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of baseline conditions on the simulated hydrologic response to projected climate change
Series title Earth Interactions
DOI 10.1175/2011EI378.1
Volume 15
Issue 27
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Publisher location Boston, MA
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 23 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earth Interactions
First page 1
Last page 23
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Almanor Catchment;Feather River Basin
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