Analysis of future climate change impacts on snow distribution over mountainous watersheds in Northern California by means of a physically-based snow distribution model

Ishida K., Ercan A., Trinh T., Kavvas M. L., Ohara N., Carr K., ...More

SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, vol.645, pp.1065-1082, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 645
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.250
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1065-1082
  • Keywords: Snow distribution, Future climate projections, Physically-based snow model, Dynamical downscaling, SIERRA-NEVADA, PRECIPITATION, TEMPERATURE, EVENT, LEVEL, 20TH-CENTURY, SIMULATIONS, SENSITIVITY, RESOURCES, RUNOFF
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The impacts of climate change on snow distribution through the 21st century were investigated over three mountainous watersheds in Northern California by means of a physically-based snow distribution model. The future climate conditions during a 90-year future period from water year 2010 to 2100 were obtained from 13 future climate projection realizations from two GCMs (ECHAM5 and CCSM3) based on four SRES scenarios (A1B, A1FI, A2, and B1). The 13 future climate projection realizations were dynamically downscaled at 9 km resolution by a regional climate model. Using the downscaled variables based on the 13 future climate projection realizations, snow distribution over the Feather, Yuba, and American River watersheds (FRW, YRW, and ARW) was projected by means of the physically-based snow model. FRW and YRW watersheds cover the main source areas of the California StateWater Project (SWP), and ARW is one of the key watersheds in the California Central Valley Project (CVP). SWP and CVP are of great importance as they provide and regulate much of the California's water for drinking, irrigation, flood control, environmental, and hydro-power generation purposes. Ensemble average snow distribution over the study watersheds was calculated over the 13 realizations and for each scenario, revealing differences among the scenarios. While the snow reduction through the 21st century was similar between A1B and A2, the snow reduction was milder for B1, and more severe for A1FI. A significant downward trend was detected in the snowpack over nearly the entire watershed areas for all the ensemble average results. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.