Human Impact on Climate Extremes for Water Resources Infrastructure Design, Operations, and Risk Management

Description:

Although the topic of human impacts on climate is well studied, the implications of large infrastructure, particularly water resources infrastructures (dams, levees, reservoirs, urban drainage, irrigation systems, flood control channels, etc.), on climate is absent in today’s literature. Basic research indicates that the large-scale changes brought about by these water infrastructures have the potential to impact climate. The question is how much can the very existence and operation of such infrastructure impact climate extremes given that it is the extreme conditions that drive the design and operation protocols in the engineering community.

While the impact of climate change on large-scale infrastructure has been studied at local/regional scales for some time, the converse (impact of infrastructure on local/regional climate extremes by virtue of its existence, operation, or other climate changing factors) has not been explored as much. Engineers have historically designed and operated water infrastructure using a one-way approach (assuming the past as representative of the future) without acknowledging the clear climatic feedbacks that basic science has now uncovered (e.g., urban heat island, urban modification of climate, the aerosol effect, etc.) The topic is multifaceted enough, with numerous feedback mechanisms, that an interdisciplinary approach focusing on the “interactions” is required.

Earth Interactions, given its mission, is an ideal venue for such a special collection of original research papers involving the disciplines of water resources engineering, climate and atmospheric science, and terrestrial hydrology. At a time when climate resilience of infrastructure is much talked about, such a collection of papers will be of great interest to the community comprising scientists, engineers, water managers, policy planners, and various stakeholders.

Collection organizers:
Faisal Hossain, University of Washington
Alfred Kalyanapu, Tennessee Technological University
Steve Burian, University of Utah

Human Impact on Climate Extremes for Water Resources Infrastructure Design, Operations, and Risk Management

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Tim Bardsley, Andrew Wood, Mike Hobbins, Tracie Kirkham, Laura Briefer, Jeff Niermeyer, and Steven Burian

Abstract

Assessing climate change risk to municipal water supplies is often conducted by hydrologic modeling specific to local watersheds and infrastructure to ensure that outputs are compatible with existing planning frameworks and processes. This study leverages the modeling capacity of an operational National Weather Service River Forecast Center to explore the potential impacts of future climate-driven hydrologic changes on factors important to planning at the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLC). Hydrologic modeling results for the study area align with prior research in showing that temperature changes alone will lead to earlier runoff and reduced runoff volume. The sensitivity of average annual flow to temperature varies significantly between watersheds, averaging −3.8% °F−1 and ranging from −1.8% to −6.5% flow reduction per degree Fahrenheit of warming. The largest flow reductions occur during the high water demand months of May–September. Precipitation drives hydrologic response more strongly than temperature, with each 1% precipitation change producing an average 1.9% runoff change of the same sign. This paper explores the consequences of climate change for the reliability of SLC's water supply system using scenarios that include hydrologic changes in average conditions, severe drought scenarios, and future water demand test cases. The most significant water management impacts will be earlier and reduced runoff volume, which threaten the system's ability to maintain adequate streamflow and storage to meet late-summer water demands.

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Mohammad Karamouz, Erfan Goharian, and Sara Nazif

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Increase in global mean temperature and changes in rainfall amount, pattern, and distribution over the world are all indicative of climate change events. These changes alter the hydroclimatic condition of regions as well as the availability of water resources. In this study, the data generated by 14 general circulation models (GCMs) developed under the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B, A2, and B2 are downscaled and utilized to evaluate climate change impact on the hydroclimatic system of the Karaj River basin located in central Iran. The precipitation and temperature of the study region are downscaled using the change factor approach (CFA). The study analyzes future climate data, extreme changes of future climatic conditions of precipitation, and temperature. The Hydrologiska Byråns Vattenbalansavdelning (HBV) model developed by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) is used to simulate streamflow under extreme climate change conditions. Two different sources of uncertainty are investigated in this study. First, the model parameters uncertainty is analyzed with the Monte Carlo procedure, and then different datasets of GCMs projection are investigated under the climate of the twentieth-century climate simulation (20C3M). Results show the GCMs projections range can almost capture the historical records during the 1980s through 2000 for the Karaj basin. By applying the HBV model, considerable range of streamflow changes in the future can be projected that will affect the operation scheme of Karaj Reservoir. In this study, the system dynamics (SD) modeling approach is used to simulate the system behavior through time in an integrated fashion and evaluate its overall reliability in supplying water. The results of this study show that the runoff will decrease in the future under the climate change impact. This will result in more than 50% decrease in reliability of the Karaj Reservoir system under the extreme conditions. As a result, this research predicts that the Karaj Reservoir system will face more than 50% decrease in its reliability under the extreme conditions. Consequently, meeting the increasing water demands would be difficult and application of demand management strategies will be unavoidable.

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Alfred J. Kalyanapu, A. K. M. Azad Hossain, Jinwoo Kim, Wondmagegn Yigzaw, Faisal Hossain, and C. K. Shum

Abstract

Recent research in mesoscale hydrology suggests that the size of the reservoirs and the land-use/land-cover (LULC) patterns near them impact the extreme weather [e.g., probable maximum flood (PMF)]. A key question was addressed by W. Yigzaw et al.: How do reservoir size and/or LULC modify extreme flood patterns, specifically PMF via modification of probable maximum precipitation (PMP)? Using the American River watershed (ARW) as a representative example of an impounded watershed with Folsom Dam as the flood control structure, they applied the distributed Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model to simulate the PMF from the atmospheric feedbacks simulated for various LULC scenarios. The current study presents a methodology to extend the impacts of these modified extreme flood patterns on the downstream Sacramento County, California. The research question addressed is, what are the relative effects of downstream flood hazards to population on the American River system under various PMF scenarios for the Folsom Dam? To address this goal, a two-dimensional flood model, the Flood in Two Dimensions–Graphics Processing Unit (Flood2D-GPU), is calibrated using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Landsat satellite observations and observed flood stage data. The calibration process emphasized challenges associated with using National Elevation Dataset (NED) digital elevation model (DEM) and topographic light detection and ranging (lidar)–derived DEMs to achieve realistic flood inundation. Following this calibration exercise, the flood model was used to simulate four land-use scenarios (control, predam, reservoir double, and nonirrigation). The flood hazards are quantified as downstream flood hazard zones by estimating flood depths and velocities and its impacts on risk to population using depth–velocity hazard relationships provided by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). From the preliminary application of methodology in this study, it is evident from comparing downstream flood hazard that similar trends in PMF comparisons reported by W. Yigzaw et al. were observed. Between the control and nonirrigation, the downstream flood hazard is pronounced by −3.90% for the judgment zone and −2.40% for high hazard zones. Comparing the control and predam scenarios, these differences are amplified, ranging between 0.17% and −1.34%. While there was no change detected in the peak PMF discharges between the control and reservoir-double scenarios, it still yielded an increase in high hazard areas for the latter. Based on this preliminary bottom-up vulnerability assessment study, it is evident that what was observed in PMF comparisons by W. Yigzaw et al. is confirmed in comparisons between control versus predam and control versus nonirrigation. While there was no change detected in the peak PMF discharges between the control and reservoir-double scenarios, it still yielded a noticeable change in the total areal extents: specifically, an increase in high hazard areas for the latter. Continued studies in bottom-up vulnerability assessment of flood hazards will aid in developing suitable mitigation and adaptation options for a much needed resilient urban infrastructure.

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G. T. Aronica and B. Bonaccorso

Abstract

In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to hydropower generation, since it is a renewable, efficient, and reliable source of energy, as well as an effective tool to reduce the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from human activities. At the same time, however, hydropower is among the most vulnerable industries to global warming, because water resources are closely linked to climate changes. Indeed, the effects of climate change on water availability are expected to affect hydropower generation with special reference to southern countries, which are supposed to face dryer conditions in the next decades. The aim of this paper is to qualitatively assess the impact of future climate change on the hydrological regime of the Alcantara River basin, eastern Sicily (Italy), based on Monte Carlo simulations. Synthetic series of daily rainfall and temperature are generated, based on observed data, through a first-order Markov chain and an autoregressive moving average (ARMA) model, respectively, for the current scenario and two future scenarios at 2025. In particular, relative changes in the monthly mean and standard deviation values of daily rainfall and temperature at 2025, predicted by the Hadley Centre Coupled Model, version 3 (HadCM3) for A2 and B2 greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, are adopted to generate future values of precipitation and temperature. Synthetic series for the two climatic scenarios are then introduced as input into the Identification of Unit Hydrographs and Component Flows from Rainfall, Evapotranspiration and Streamflow Data (IHACRES) model to simulate the hydrological response of the basin. The effects of climate change are investigated by analyzing potential modification of the resulting flow duration curves and utilization curves, which allow a site's energy potential for the design of run-of-river hydropower plants to be estimated.

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Wondmagegn Yigzaw, Faisal Hossain, and Alfred Kalyanapu

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Since historical (predam) data are traditionally the sole criterion for dam design, future (postdam) meteorological and hydrological variability due to land-use and land-cover change cannot be considered for assessing design robustness. For example, postdam urbanization within a basin leads to definite and immediate increase in direct runoff and reservoir peak inflow. On the other hand, urbanization can strategically (i.e., gradually) alter the mesoscale circulation patterns leading to more extreme rainfall rates. Thus, there are two key pathways (immediate or strategic) by which the design flood magnitude can be compromised. The main objective of the study is to compare the relative contribution to increase in flood magnitudes through direct effects of land-cover change (urbanization and less infiltration) with gradual climate-based effects of land-cover change (modification in mesoscale storm systems). The comparison is cast in the form of a sensitivity study that looks into the response to the design probable maximum flood (PMF) from probable maximum precipitation (PMP). Using the American River watershed (ARW) and Folsom Dam as a case study, simulated peak floods for the 1997 (New Year's) flood event show that a 100% impervious watershed has the potential of generating a flood that is close to design PMF. On the other hand, the design PMP produces an additional 1500 m3 s−1 peak flood compared to the actual PMF when the watershed is considered 100% impervious. This study points to the radical need for consideration future land-cover changes up front during the dam design and operation formulation phase by considering not only the immediate effects but also the gradual climatic effects on PMF. A dynamic dam design procedure should be implemented that takes into account the change of land–atmospheric and hydrological processes as a result of land-cover modification rather than relying on historical records alone.

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M. Sekhar, M. Shindekar, Sat K. Tomer, and P. Goswami

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Climate change impact on a groundwater-dependent small urban town has been investigated in the semiarid hard rock aquifer in southern India. A distributed groundwater model was used to simulate the groundwater levels in the study region for the projected future rainfall (2012–32) obtained from a general circulation model (GCM) to estimate the impacts of climate change and management practices on groundwater system. Management practices were based on the human-induced changes on the urban infrastructure such as reduced recharge from the lakes, reduced recharge from water and wastewater utility due to an operational and functioning underground drainage system, and additional water extracted by the water utility for domestic purposes. An assessment of impacts on the groundwater levels was carried out by calibrating a groundwater model using comprehensive data gathered during the period 2008–11 and then simulating the future groundwater level changes using rainfall from six GCMs [Institute of Numerical Mathematics Coupled Model, version 3.0 (INM-CM.3.0); L'Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace Coupled Model, version 4 (IPSL-CM4); Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate, version 3.2 (MIROC3.2); ECHAM and the global Hamburg Ocean Primitive Equation (ECHO-G); Hadley Centre Coupled Model, version 3 (HadCM3); and Hadley Centre Global Environment Model, version 1 (HadGEM1)] that were found to show good correlation to the historical rainfall in the study area. The model results for the present condition indicate that the annual average discharge (sum of pumping and natural groundwater outflow) was marginally or moderately higher at various locations than the recharge and further the recharge is aided from the recharge from the lakes. Model simulations showed that groundwater levels were vulnerable to the GCM rainfall and a scenario of moderate reduction in recharge from lakes. Hence, it is important to sustain the induced recharge from lakes by ensuring that sufficient runoff water flows to these lakes.

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Brandon L. Parkes, Hannah L. Cloke, Florian Pappenberger, Jeff Neal, and David Demeritt

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Flood simulation models and hazard maps are only as good as the underlying data against which they are calibrated and tested. However, extreme flood events are by definition rare, so the observational data of flood inundation extent are limited in both quality and quantity. The relative importance of these observational uncertainties has increased now that computing power and accurate lidar scans make it possible to run high-resolution 2D models to simulate floods in urban areas. However, the value of these simulations is limited by the uncertainty in the true extent of the flood. This paper addresses that challenge by analyzing a point dataset of maximum water extent from a flood event on the River Eden at Carlisle, United Kingdom, in January 2005. The observation dataset is based on a collection of wrack and water marks from two postevent surveys. A smoothing algorithm for identifying, quantifying, and reducing localized inconsistencies in the dataset is proposed and evaluated showing positive results. The proposed smoothing algorithm can be applied in order to improve flood inundation modeling assessment and the determination of risk zones on the floodplain.

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Jinyang Du and Qiang Liu

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Knowledge of the spatial distribution and temporal changes of the land surface parameters at the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) region is essential to understanding the changes of hydrological processes and climate systems possibly brought by TGD. Based on accumulated observations for years from a spaceborne passive microwave radiometer, this study presents and analyzes the spatial and temporal distribution of soil moisture in the TGD region. Major drought and flood events are identified from the satellite-derived soil moisture products. Moreover, the areas around the largest freshwater lakes of China, the Dongting and Poyang Lakes, are frequently subjected to drought events, which might be partially related to the impoundment of TGD since the year 2006. Data analysis further reveals a statistically significant drying trend in May in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River over the years 2003–11. These analyses indicate that water shortage becomes a realistic challenge for the once water abundant Yangtze River region, and more considerations on the possible consequences brought by climate changes are needed for the operation of TGD.

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