New USGS Climate Study on Future Streamflow Declines and Challenges in Southwestern US

Source: USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has published the findings of a new study in the Journal of Hydrology entitled, “Changing climate drives future streamflow declines and challenges in meeting water demand across the southwestern United States.” The study projects streamflow for the seven major river basins in the southwest, including the Colorado River and Rio Grande basins, to decrease by as much as 36–80% by the end of this century. The projections were calculated for three 30-year intervals starting in 2020 using seven different climate models and suggest that substantial water stresses in these river basins (that provide water for drinking, agriculture, hydroelectric power, recreation, and ecosystems) are likely to occur by 2060. Highlights of the study findings show that:

  • Future streamflow declines may jeopardize water sharing agreements.
  • Potential streamflow increases are insufficient for meeting growing water demand.
  • Large changes in water source regions have substantial downstream implications.
  • Greenhouse gas concentration reductions may help maintain historical streamflows.

For more information, read the study here.