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North American Water Impacts Map

To illustrate the potential effects of climate change on various water regions in North America, Dr. Miller devised the map below. Click on the region you wish to know more about. Map source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II Third Assessment Report.

Water and Climate Change Research
 
Region 1: Alaska, Yukon, and Coastal British Columbia
Region 1: Alaska, Yukon, and Coastal British Columbia
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Lightly settled/water-abundant region; potential ecological, hydropower, and flood impacts:
  • Increased spring flood risks (1,2)
  • Glacial retreat/disappearance in south, advance in north; impacts on flows, stream ecology (2,3,4)
  • Increased stress on salmon, other fish species (2,5)
  • Flooding of coastal wetlands (5)
  • Changes in estuary salinity/ecology (2)
References for Region 1:
  1. Loukas and Quick. 1999.
  2. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. 1
  3. Brugman et al. 1997.
  4. Hofmann et al. 1998.
  5. Bering Sea Impacts Study (BESIS)

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 2: Pacific Coast States (USA)
Region 2: Pacific Coast States (USA)
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Large and rapidly growing population; water abundance decreases north to south; intensive irrigated agriculture; massive water-control infrastructure; Heavy reliance on hydropower; endangered species issues; increasing competition for water:
  • More winter rainfall/less snowfall - earlier seasonal peak in runoff; increased fall/winter flooding, decreased summer water supply (6,7,8,9,10)
  • Possible increase in annual runoff in Sierra Nevada and Cascades (9,11,12)
  • Possible summer salinity increase in San Francisco Bay and Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta (6,13)
  • Changes in lake and stream ecology - warmwater species benefitting; damage to coldwater species (e.g., trout and salmon) (6,8,14)
References for Region 2:
  1. Melack et al. 1997.
  2. Hamlet and Lettenmaier. 1999.
  3. Cohen et al. In Press, (2000).
  4. Wilby. and Dettinger, In Press.
  5. Leung and Wigmosta. 1999.
  6. Wolock and McCabe. 1999.
  7. Felzer and Heard. 1999.
  8. Gleick and Chalecki. 1999.
  9. Thompson et al. 1998.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 3: Rocky Mountains (USA and Canada)
Region 3: Rocky Mountains (USA and Canada)
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Regional Characteristics: Lightly populated in the north, rapid population growth in the south; irrigated agriculture, recreation, urban expansion increasingly competing for water; headwaters area for other regions:
  • Rise in snow line in winter-spring, possible increases in snowfall, earlier snowmelt, more frequent rain on snow - changes in seasonal streamflow, possible reductions in summer streamflow, reduced summer soil moisture (4,15,16,17,18)
  • Stream temperature changes affecting species composition; increased isolation of coldwater stream fish (19)
References for Region 3:
  1. Hofmann et al. 1998.
  2. Fyfe and Flato. 1999.
  3. McCabe and Wolock. 1999.
  4. Leith and Whitfield. 1998.
  5. Williams et al. 1996.
  6. Hauer et al. 1997.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 4: Southwest
Region 4: Southwest
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Regional Characteristics: Rapid population growth, dependence on limited groundwater and surface water supplies, water quality concerns in border region, endangered species concerns, vulnerability to flash flooding:
  • Possible changes in snowpacks and runoff (20)
  • Possible declines in groundwater recharge- reduced water supplies (21)
  • Increased water temperatures - further stress on aquatic species (22)
  • Increased frequency of intense precipitation events - increased risk of flash floods (23)
References for Region 4:
  1. Wilby et al. In press (1999).
  2. EPA, 1998a.
  3. Hurd et al. 1999.
  4. EPA, 1998b.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 5: Sub-Arctic and Arctic
Region 5: Sub-Arctic and Arctic
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Sparse population (many dependent on natural systems), winter ice cover important feature of hydrological cycle:
  • Thinner ice cover, 1- to 3- month increase in ice-free season, increased extent of open water (24,25)
  • Increased lake-level variability, possible complete drying of some delta lakes (24,25)
  • Changes in aquatic ecology and species distribution as a result of warmer temperatures and longer growing season (25,26,27)
References for Region 5:
  1. Marsh and Lesack. 1996.
  2. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. II
  3. Rouse et al. 1997.
  4. MacDonald et al. 1996.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 6: Midwest USA and Canadian Prairies
Region 6: Midwest USA and Canadian Prairies
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Agricultural heartland - mostly rainfed, with some areas relying heavily on irrigation:
  • Annual streamflow decreasing/increasing; possible large declines in summer streamflow (11,17,28,29,30,31,32)
  • Increasing likelihood of severe droughts (4,33)
  • Possible increasing aridity in semi-arid zones (34)
  • Increases or decreases in irrigation demand and water availability - uncertain impacts on farm sector income, groundwater levels, streamflows, water quality (29,35,36)
References for Region 6:
  1. Hofmann et al. 1998.
  2. Wolock and McCabe. 1999.
  3. Leith and Whitfield. 1998.
  4. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. III.
  5. Strzepek et al. 1999.
  6. Clair et al. 1998.
  7. Yulianti and Burn. 1998.
  8. Lettenmaier et al. 1999.
  9. Woodhouse and Overpeck. 1998.
  10. Evans and Prepas. 1996.
  11. Eheart et al. 1999.
  12. Hurd et al. 1998.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 7: Great Lakes
Region 7: Great Lakes
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Heavily populated and industrialized region, variations in lake levels/flows now affect hydropower, shipping, shoreline structures:
  • Possible precipitation increases coupled with reduced runoff and lake-level declines (37,38)
  • Reduced hydropower production; reduced channel depths for shipping (4,38)
  • Decreases in lake ice extent - some years without ice cover (39)
  • Changes in phytoplankton/zooplankton biomass, northward migration of fish species, possible extirpations of coldwater species (39)
References for Region 7:
  1. Hofmann et al. 1998.
  2. Mortsch and Quinn. 1996.
  3. Chao. 1999.
  4. Magnuson et al. 1997.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 8: Northeast USA and Eastern Canada
Region 8: Northeast USA and Eastern Canada
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: Large, mostly urban population - generally adequate water supplies, large number of small dams, but limited total resevoir capacity; heavily populated floodplains:
  • Decreased snow cover amount and duration (40)
  • Possible large reductions in streamflow (40)
  • Accelerated coastal erosion, saline intrusion into coastal aquifers (4,41,42)
  • Changes in magnitude, timing of ice freeze-up/break-up, with impacts on spring flooding (41,43)
  • Possible elimination of bog ecosystems (40)
  • Shifts in fish species distributions, migration patterns (41)
References for Region 8:
  1. Hofmann et al. 1998.
  2. Moore et al. 1997.
  3. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. VI.
  4. U.S. National Assessment. 1999.
  5. Hare et al. 1997.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Region 9: Southeast, Gulf, and Mid-Alantic USA
Region 9: Southeast, Gulf, and Mid-Alantic USA
[ Back to Map ]
Regional Characteristics: increasing population - especially in coastal areas, water quality/non-point source pollution problems, stress on aquatic ecosystems:
  • Heavily populated coastal floodplains at risk to flooding from extreme precipitation events, hurricanes (22,32)
  • Possible lower base flows, larger peak flows, longer droughts (44)
  • Possible precipitation increase - possible increases or decreases in runoff/river discharge, increased flow variability (32,44,45,46)
  • Major expansion of northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone possible - other impacts on coastal systems related to changes in precipitation/non-point source pollution loading (45,47)
  • Changes in estuary systems and wetland extent, biotic processes, species distribution (44,48)
References for Region 9:
  1. Hurd et al. 1999.
  2. Lettenmaier et al. 1999.
  3. Mulholland et al. 1997.
  4. Justic, D. et al. 1996.
  5. Arnell, N. W. 1999.
  6. Cruise et al. 1999.
  7. Porter et al. 1996.

[ Full Alphabetical Reference List ]

Full Alphabetical Reference List (revised 3/14/00)

[ A-C ]   [ D-H ]   [ J-M ]   [ N-Z ]

Arnell, N. W. 1999. Climate change and global water resources. Global Environmental Change, 9,S31-S49.

Bering Sea Impacts Study (BESIS): Summary of the main implications of global change in the region.

Brugman, P. Raistrick and A. Pietroniro. 1997. Glacier related impacts of doubling carbon dioxide concentrations on British Columbia and Yukon. In Taylor, E. and B. Taylor (eds.), Responding to Global Climate Change in British Columbia and Yukon. Volume I of the Canada Country Study: Climate Impacts and Adaptation. Environment Canada, Vancouver, and British Columbia Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks, Victoria, 6-1 to 6-9.

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. 1: Responding to Global Climate Change in the British Columbia and Yukon Region. Environment Canada.

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. II: Responding to Global Climate Change in the Arctic. Environment Canada.

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. III: Responding to Global Climate Change in the Prairies. Environment Canada.

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. VI: Ontario region executive summary, Environment Canada.

Chao, P. 1999. Great Lakes water resources: Climate change impact analysis with transient GCM scenarios. JAWRA, 35(6), 1499-1508.

Clair, T. A., J. Ehrman and K. Higuchi. 1998. Changes to the runoff of Canadian ecozones under a doubled CO2 atmosphere. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 55,2464-2477.

Cohen, S.J., K.A. Miller, A.F. Hamlet and W.Avis. In Press, (2000). Climate change and resource management in the Columbia River Basin. Water International.

Cruise, J. F., A. S. Limaye and N. Al-Abed. 1999. Assessment of impacts of climate change on water quality in the Southeastern United States. JAWRA, 35(6), 1539-1550.

[ A-C ]   [ D-H ]   [ J-M ]   [ N-Z ]

Eheart, J. W., A. J. Wildermuth and E. E. Herricks. 1999. The effects of climate change and irrigation on criterion low streamflows used for determining total maximum daily loads. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 35(6), 1365-1372.

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1998a. Climate Change and Arizona. Publication EPA 236-F-98-007c.

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1998b. Climate Change and New Mexico. Publication EPA 236-F-98-007p.

Evans, J.C., and E.E. Prepas. 1996. Potential effects of climate change on ion chemistry and phytoplankton communities in prairie saline lakes Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 1063-1076.

Felzer, B. and P. Heard. 1999. Precipitation Differences Amongst GCMs Used for the U.S. National Assessment. JAWRA, 35(6), 1327-1340.

Fyfe, J.C. and G.M. Flato. 1999. Enhanced climate change and its detection over the Rocky Mountains. Journal of Climate, 12 (1), 230-243.

Gleick, P. H. and E. L. Chalecki. 1999. The impacts of climatic changes for water resources of the Colorado and Sacramento-San Joaquin river basins. JAWRA, 35(6), 1429-1442.

Hamlet, A. F. and D. P. Lettenmaier. 1999. Effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources in the Columbia River Basin. JAWRA, 35(6), 1597-1624.

Hare, F. K., R.B.B. Dickinson, and S. Ismail. 1997. Climatic Variation over the Saint John Basin: An Examination of Regional Behavior. Climate Change Digest, CCD 97-02, Atmospheric Environment Service, Toronto.

Hauer, F.R., J.S. Baron, D.H. Campbell, K.D. Fausch, S.W. Hostetler, G.H. Leavesley, P.R. Leavitt, D.M. McKnight and J.A. Stanford. 1997. Assessment of climate change and freshwater ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, USA and Canada. Hydrological Processes, 11, 903-924.

Hofmann, N., L. and others. 1998. Climate Change and Variability: Impacts on Canadian Water. Canada Country Study (CCS), Chapter 1, Vol. VIII, 1-120.

Hurd, B.H., J. M. Callaway, J.B. Smith and P. Kirshen, 1998. "Economic Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Water Resources," in R. Mendelsohn and J.E. Neumann (eds.), The Economic Impacts of Climate Change on the U.S. Economy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Hurd, B., N. Leary, R. Jones and J. Smith. 1999. Relative regional vulnerability of water resources to climate change. JAWRA, 35(6), 1399-1410.

[ A-C ]   [ D-H ]   [ J-M ]   [ N-Z ]

Justic, D., N.N. Rabalais and R.E. Turner. 1996. Effects of climate change on hypoxia in coastal waters: A doubled CO2 scenario for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Limnology and Oceanography, 41,(5), 992-1003.

Leith, R. M. M. and P. H. Whitfield. 1998. Evidence of climate change effects on the hydrology of streams in south-central B.C. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 23(3), 219-230.

Lettenmaier, D. P.and others. 1999. Water resources implications of global warming: a U.S. regional perspective. Climatic Change, 43(3), 537-579.

Leung, L. R. and M. S. Wigmosta. 1999. Potential climate change impacts on mountain watersheds in the Pacific Northwest. JAWRA, 35(6), 1463-1472.

Loukas, A. and M. C. Quick. 1999. The effect of climate change on floods in British Columbia. Nordic Hydrology, 30,231-256.

MacDonald, M.E., A.E. Hershey and M.C. Miller. 1996. Global warming impacts on lake trout in arctic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 41,(5), 1102-1108.

Magnuson, J.J., K.E. Webster, R.A. Assel, C.J. Browser, P.J. Dillon, J.G.Eaton, H.E. Evans, E.J. Fee, R.I. Hall, L.R. Mortsch, D.W. Schindler and F.H.Quinn. 1997. Potential effects of climate changes on aquatic systems: Laurentian Great Lakes and Precambrian Shield region. Hydrological Processes, 11, 825-871.

Marsh, P. and L.F.W. Lesack. 1996. The hydrologic response of perched lakes in the Mackenzie delta: potential responses to climate change. Limnology and Oceanography, 41,(5), 849-856.

McCabe, G.J. and D. M. Wolock. 1999. General-Circulation-Model Simulations of Future Snowpack in the Western United States, JAWRA, 35(6), 1473-1484.

Melack, J.M.. J. Dozier, C.R. Goldman, D. Greenland, A.M. Milner and R.J. Naiman. 1997. Effects of climate change on inland waters of the Pacific coastal mountains and western Great basin of North America. Hydrological Processes, 11, 971-992.

Moore, M.V., M.L. Pace, J.R. Mather, P.S.Murdoch, R.W.Howarth, C.L. Folt, C.Y. Chen, H.F. Hemond, PA. Flebbe and C.T. Driscoll, 1997. Potential effects of climate change on freshwater ecosystems of the New England/Mid-Atlantic region. Hydrological Processes, 11, 925-947.

Mortsch, L.D. and F.H. Quinn, 1996. Climate change scenarios for Great Lakes Basin ecosystems studies. Limnology and Oceanography, 41,(5), 903-911.

Mulholland, P.J., G.R.Best, C.C. Coutant, G.M. Hornberger, J.L. Meyer, P.J. Robinson, J. R. Stenberg, R.E. Turner, F. Vera-Herrera, and R.G. Wetzel. 1997. Effects of climate change on freshwater ecosystems of the southeastern United States and the gulf coast of Mexico. Hydrological Processes, 11, 949-970.

[ A-C ]   [ D-H ]   [ J-M ]   [ N-Z ]

Porter, K.G., P.A. Saunders, K.A. Haberyan, A.E. Macubbin, T.R. Jacobsen and R.E. Hodson. 1996. Annual cycle of autotrophic and heterotrophic production in a small, monomictic Piedmont lake (Lake Oglethorpe): Analog for the effects of climatic warming on dimictic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 41 (5), 1041-1051.

Rouse, W.R., M.S.V. Douglas, R.E. Hecky, A.E. Hershey, G.W. Kling, L. Lesack, P. Marsh, M. McDonald, B.J. Nicholson, N.T. Roulet and J.P. Smol, 1997. Effects of climate change on the freshwaters of arctic and subarctic North America. Hydrological Processes, 11, 873-902.

Strzepek, K.M. and others. 1999. New methods of modeling water availability for agriculture under climate change: The U.S. Cornbelt. JAWRA, 35(6), 1639-1656.

Thompson, R. S., S. W. Hostetler, P. J. Bartlein and K. H. Anderson. 1998. A strategy for assessing potential future change in climate, hydrology, and vegetation in the western United States. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1153, Washington, D.C.

U.S. National Assessment. 1999. Draft Overview (reference to be completed later).

Wilby, R.L. and M.D. Dettinger, In Press. Streamflow changes in the Sierra Nevada, California, simulated using a statistically downscaled General Circulation Model scenario of climate change. In Linking Climate Change to Land Surface Change, S. McLaren and D. Kniveton (eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers (Netherlands).

Wilby, R.L., L.E. Hay and G.H. Leavesley. In press (1999). A comparison of downscaled and raw GCM output: implications for climate change scenarios in the San Juan River basin, Colorado. Journal of Hydrology.

Williams, M.W., M. Losleben, N. Caine and D. Greenland. 1996. Changes in climate and hydrochemical responses in a high-elevation catchment in the Rocky Mountains, USA. Limnology and Oceanography, 41 (5), 939-946.

Wolock, D. M. and G. J. McCabe. 1999. Estimates of Runoff Using Water-Balance and Atmospheric General Circulation Models, JAWRA, 35(6), 1341-1350.

Woodhouse, C.A., and J.T. Overpeck. 1998. 2000 years of drought variability in the central United States. American Meteorological Society Bulletin, 79, 2693-2714.

Yulianti, J. S. and D. H. Burn. 1998. Investigating links between climatic warming and low streamflow in the Prairies region of Canada. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 23(1), 45-60.

 
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National Center for Atmospheric Research This website is maintained by Dr. Kathleen Miller of the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).   National Center for Atmospheric Research
PO Box 3000   Boulder, Colorado 80307
Tel: 3303-497-8115; Fax: 303-497-8125
kathleen@ucar.edu
Region 1: Alaska, Yukon, and Coastal British Columbia Region 2: Pacific Coast States (USA) Region 3: Rocky Mountains (USA and Canada) Region 4: Southwest Region 5: Sub-Arctic and Arctic Region 6: Midwest USA and Canadian Prairies Region 7: Great Lakes Region 8: Northeast USA and Eastern Canada Region 9: Southeast, Gulf, and Mid-Alantic USA