Sensitivity of ground - water recharge estimates to climate variability and change, Columbia Plateau, Washington

Journal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
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Abstract

The sensitivity of groundwater recharge estimates was investigated for the semiarid Ellensburg basin, located on the Columbia Plateau, Washington, to historic and projected climatic regimes. Recharge was estimated for predevelopment and current (1980s) land use conditions using a daily energy-soil-water balance model. A synthetic daily weather generator was used to simulate lengthy sequences with parameters estimated from subsets of the historical record that were unusually wet and unusually dry. Comparison of recharge estimates corresponding to relatively wet and dry periods showed that recharge for predevelopment land use varies considerably within the range of climatic conditions observed in the 87-year historical observation period. Recharge variations for present land use conditions were less sensitive to the same range of historical climatic conditions because of irrigation. The estimated recharge based on the 87-year historical climatology was compared with adjustments to the historical precipitation and temperature records for the same record to reflect CO2-doubling climates as projected by general circulation models (GCMs). Two GCM scenarios were considered: an average of conditions for three different GCMs with CO2 doubling, and a most severe “maximum” case. For the average GCM scenario, predevelopment recharge increased, and current recharge decreased. Also considered was the sensitivity of recharge to the variability of climate within the historical and adjusted historical records. Predevelopment and current recharge were less and more sensitive, respectively, to the climate variability for the average GCM scenario as compared to the variability within the historical record. For the maximum GCM scenario, recharge for both predevelopment and current land use decreased, and the sensitivity to the CO2-related climate change was larger than sensitivity to the variability in the historical and adjusted historical climate records.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sensitivity of ground - water recharge estimates to climate variability and change, Columbia Plateau, Washington
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
DOI 10.1029/91JD01788
Volume 97
Issue D3
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Washington Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 2821
Last page 2833
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N