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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 239–255, 2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 239–255, 2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  11 Feb 2008

11 Feb 2008

Assessment of impact of climate change on water resources: a long term analysis of the Great Lakes of North America

E. McBean1 and H. Motiee2 E. McBean and H. Motiee
  • 1School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Guelph, N1G 2W1, Canada
  • 2Water Eng. Faculty, Power and Water University of Technology (PWUT), Tehran, Iran

Abstract. In the threshold of the appearance of global warming from theory to reality, extensive research has focused on predicting the impact of potential climate change on water resources using results from Global Circulation Models (GCMs). This research carries this further by statistical analyses of long term meteorological and hydrological data. Seventy years of historical trends in precipitation, temperature, and streamflows in the Great Lakes of North America are developed using long term regression analyses and Mann-Kendall statistics. The results generated by the two statistical procedures are in agreement and demonstrate that many of these variables are experiencing statistically significant increases over a seven-decade period. The trend lines of streamflows in the three rivers of St. Clair, Niagara and St. Lawrence, and precipitation levels over four of the five Great Lakes, show statistically significant increases in flows and precipitation. Further, precipitation rates as predicted using fitted regression lines are compared with scenarios from GCMs and demonstrate similar forecast predictions for Lake Superior. Trend projections from historical data are higher than GCM predictions for Lakes Michigan/Huron. Significant variability in predictions, as developed from alternative GCMs, is noted.

Given the general agreement as derived from very different procedures, predictions extrapolated from historical trends and from GCMs, there is evidence that hydrologic changes particularly for the precipitation in the Great Lakes Basin may be demonstrating influences arising from global warming and climate change.

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