SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Investigating the sensitivity of U.S. streamflow and water quality to climate change: U.S. EPA Global Change Research Program’s 20 watersheds project 
Authors:Johnson, T.E., J.B. Butcher, A. Parker and C.P. Weaver 
Journal:Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 
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Broad Application Category:hydrologic only 
Primary Application Category:climate change  
Secondary Application Category:model comparison 
Watershed Description:the Minnesota River in southern Minnesota (and small portions of north central Iowa and northeast South Dakota), the Susquehanna River in southern New York and Pennsylvania (and a small portion of northeast Maryland), the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) in Georgia and Florida (and a small portion of eastern Alabama), the Salt/Verde/San Pedro (central Arizona) in central and southern Arizona, and the Willamette River in northwest Oregon; all in the U.S. 
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Abstract:The U.S. EPA’s Global Change Research Program (GCRP) recently began an effort to address gaps in the current knowledge of the sensitivity of U.S. streamflow, nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus), and sediment loading to potential future climate change, and the methodological challenges associated with integrating existing tools (e.g., climate models, land-use models, watershed models) and data sets to address these scientific questions. The study is based on watershed modeling in 20 large U.S. watersheds. The purpose of this paper is to describe the overall structure of this ongoing effort—methods, sites, models, and scenarios—and discuss preliminary results generated to date for a subset of the watersheds. Specifically, a representative set of modeling results are reviewed that encompass the full suite of sensitivity tests explored in this project. These results illustrate a number of key methodological issues, sensitivities, and uncertainties associated with carrying out these types of climate change/hydrologic impacts assessments, including: the sensitivity of simulated changes to the watershed model used; the sensitivity of simulated changes to climate model and downscaling approach used; and the interaction between climate change and other key forcing factors, specifically urbanization and change in atmospheric CO2 concentration. In addition, this suite of results provides an overview of the response to climate change in different geographic regions and the different sensitivities of a variety of flow and water quality end points. 
Keywords:Climate change; Water quality; Watershed modeling; Scenarios; Policy and management decision support