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New USGS Studies Show Effects Of Climate Change On Water Availability In 14 U.S. Local Basins

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson


According to the USGS, climate change projections indicate an increase in temperature progressing through the 21st century, generally resulting in snowpack reductions, changes to timing of snowmelt, altered streamflows and reductions in soil moisture. These factors will affect water management, agriculture, recreation, hazard mitigation and ecosystems throughout the U.S. New studies show, however, that climate change will affect specific water basins in the U.S. differently based upon the particular hydrologic and geologic conditions present.

To date, the USGS has applied models to fourteen basins:

  • Sprague River Basin, Oregon
  • Sagehen Creek Basin, California
  • Feather River Basin, California
  • Naches River Basin, Washington
  • Yampa River Basin, Colorado
  • East River Basin, Colorado
  • Black Earth Creek Basin, Wisconsin
  • Flint River Basin, Georgia
  • Pomperaug River Watershed, Connecticut
  • Clear Creek Basin, Iowa
  • Cathance Stream Basin, Maine
  • Trout Lake Basin, Wisconsin
  • Starkweather Coulee Basin, North Dakota
  • South Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

"The advantage of these studies is that they demonstrate that there is not just one hydrological response to climate change: the predictions account for essential local factors that will govern the timing, severity, and type of impact, whether it be water shortage, drought, or flood," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This is exactly the sort of information communities need to know now, because we are unlikely to see a 'water-as-usual' future."

More information about the USGS climate change studies conducted to date is available at http://www.usgs.gov/.