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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-2019-676
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-676
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Feb 2020

21 Feb 2020

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This preprint has been withdrawn by the authors.

Climate change impacts on snow and streamflow drought regimes in four ecoregions of British Columbia

Jennifer R. Dierauer1, Diana M. Allen2, and Paul H. Whitfield2,3,4 Jennifer R. Dierauer et al.
  • 1College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI 54481
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, V5A 1S6, Canada
  • 3Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK
  • 4Environment and Climate Change Canada, Vancouver, BC

Abstract. In many regions with seasonal snow cover, summer streamflow is primarily sustained by groundwater that is recharged during the snowmelt period. Therefore, below-normal snowpack (snow drought) may lead to below-normal summer streamflow (streamflow drought). Summer streamflow is important for supplying human needs and sustaining ecosystems. Climate change impacts on snow have been widely studied, but the relationship between snow drought and streamflow drought is not well understood. In this study, a combined investigation of climate change impacts on snow drought and streamflow drought was completed using generic groundwater – surface water models for four headwater catchments in different ecoregions of British Columbia. Results show that, in response to increased precipitation and temperature, the snow drought regime changes substantially for all four catchments. Warm snow droughts, which are caused by above-normal winter temperatures, increase in frequency, and dry snow droughts, which are caused by below-normal winter precipitation, decrease in frequency. The shift toward more frequent and severe temperature-related snow droughts leads to decreased summer runoff, decreased summer groundwater storage, and more extreme low flows in summer. Moreover, snow droughts propagate into summer streamflow droughts more frequently in the future time periods (2050s, 2080s) as compared to the baseline 1980s period. Thus, warm snow droughts not only become more frequent and severe in the future but also more likely to result in summer streamflow drought conditions.

This preprint has been withdrawn.

Jennifer R. Dierauer et al.

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Jennifer R. Dierauer et al.

Jennifer R. Dierauer et al.

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Short summary
Increasing temperatures due to climate change will change patterns of snow accumulation and melt. How these changes in snow impact summer streamflow, however, is not well understood. This study combined computer-based watershed models with climate change projections to show how warm winters with less snow accumulation lead to less streamflow in the following summer season. In seasonally snow-covered regions, warm winters could become a common stressor on summer surface water supplies.
Increasing temperatures due to climate change will change patterns of snow accumulation and...
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