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David M. Bjerklie, Thomas J. Trombley, and Roland J. Viger

Abstract

A regional watershed model was developed for watersheds contributing to Long Island Sound, including the Connecticut River basin. The study region covers approximately 40 900 km2, extending from a moderate coastal climate zone in the south to a mountainous northern New England climate zone dominated by snowmelt in the north. The input data indicate that precipitation and temperature have been increasing for the last 46 years (1961–2006) across the region. Minimum temperature has increased more than maximum temperature over the same period (1961–2006). The model simulation indicates that there was an upward trend in groundwater recharge across most of the modeled region. However, trends in increasing precipitation and groundwater recharge are not significant at the 0.05 level if the drought of 1961–67 is removed from the time series. The trend in simulated snowfall is not significant across much of the region, although there is a significant downward trend in southeast Connecticut and in central Massachusetts. To simulate future trends, two input datasets, one assuming high carbon emissions and one assuming low carbon emissions, were developed from GCM forecasts. Under both of the carbon emission scenarios, simulations indicate that historical trends will continue, with increases in groundwater recharge over much of the region and substantial snowfall decreases across Massachusetts, Connecticut, southern Vermont, and southern New Hampshire. The increases in groundwater recharge and decreases in snowfall are most pronounced for the high emission scenario.

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Roland J. Viger, Lauren E. Hay, Steven L. Markstrom, John W. Jones, and Gary R. Buell

Abstract

The potential effects of long-term urbanization and climate change on the freshwater resources of the Flint River basin were examined by using the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). PRMS is a deterministic, distributed-parameter watershed model developed to evaluate the effects of various combinations of precipitation, temperature, and land cover on streamflow and multiple intermediate hydrologic states. Precipitation and temperature output from five general circulation models (GCMs) using one current and three future climate-change scenarios were statistically downscaled for input into PRMS. Projections of urbanization through 2050 derived for the Flint River basin by the Forecasting Scenarios of Future Land-Cover (FORE-SCE) land-cover change model were also used as input to PRMS. Comparison of the central tendency of streamflow simulated based on the three climate-change scenarios showed a slight decrease in overall streamflow relative to simulations under current conditions, mostly caused by decreases in the surface-runoff and groundwater components. The addition of information about forecasted urbanization of land surfaces to the hydrologic simulation mitigated the decreases in streamflow, mainly by increasing surface runoff.

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