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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-638
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-638
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  23 Jan 2020

23 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Using hydrologic landscape classification and climatic time series to assess hydrologic vulnerability of the Western U.S. to climate

Chas E. Jones1,a, Scott G. Leibowitz2, Keith A. Sawicz3, Randy L. Comeleo2, Laurel E. Stratton4, Phillip E. Morefield5, and Chris P. Weaver6 Chas E. Jones et al.
  • 1Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), c/o U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Pacific Ecological Systems Division, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Pacific Ecological Systems Division, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 3Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), c/o U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Pacific Ecological Systems Division, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 4c/o U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Pacific Ecological Systems Division, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 5U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Health and Environmental Effects Assessment Division, Washington, DC 20460, USA
  • 6U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Health and Environmental Effects Assessment Division, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
  • acurrent affiliation: Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA

Abstract. We apply the hydrologic landscapes (HL) concept to assess the hydrologic vulnerability of the western United States (U.S.) to projected climate conditions. Our goal is to understand the potential impacts for stakeholder-defined interests across large geographic areas. The basic assumption of the HL approach is that catchments that share similar physical and climatic characteristics are expected to have similar hydrologic characteristics. We map climate vulnerability by integrating the HL approach into a retrospective analysis of historical data to assess variability in future climate projections and hydrology, which includes temperature, precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, snow accumulation, climatic moisture, surplus water, and seasonality of water surplus. Projections that are not within two-standard deviations of the historical decadal average contribute to the vulnerability index for each metric. This allows stakeholders and/or water resource managers to understand the potential impacts of future conditions. In this paper, we present example assessments of hydrologic vulnerability of specific geographic locations (Sonoma Valley, Willamette Valley, and Mount Hood) that are important to the ski and wine industries to illustrate how our approach might be used by specific stakeholders. The resulting vulnerability maps show that temperature and potential evapotranspiration are consistently projected to have high vulnerability indices for the western U.S. Precipitation vulnerability is not as spatially uniform as temperature. The highest elevation areas with snow are projected to experience significant changes in snow accumulation. The seasonality vulnerability map shows that specific mountainous areas in the West are most prone to changes in seasonality, whereas many transitional terrains are moderately susceptible. This paper illustrates how the HL approach can help assess climatic and hydrologic vulnerability across large spatial scales. By combining the HL concept and climate vulnerability analyses, we provide a planning approach that could allow resource managers to consider how future climate conditions may impact important economic and conservation resources.

Chas E. Jones et al.

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Chas E. Jones et al.

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Short summary
Our research assess the hydrologic vulnerability of the western U.S. to climate by classifying the landscape based on its physical and climatic characteristics, and analyzing climate data. We also apply our approach to examine the vulnerabilities of case studies in the ski and wine industries. We show the west and its ski areas are vulnerable to changes in snow, while vineyard vulnerability varies. This approach allows us to consider climatic impacts across large landscapes and industries.
Our research assess the hydrologic vulnerability of the western U.S. to climate by classifying...
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