The potential effects of climate change on the hydrology and water resources of the Columbia River Basin (CRB) were evaluated using simulations from the U.S. Department of Energy and National Center for Atmospheric Research Parallel Climate Model (DOE/NCAR PCM). This study focuses on three climate projections for the 21st century based on a ‘business as usual' (BAU) global emissions scenario, evaluated with respect to a control climate scenario based on static 1995 emissions. Time-varying monthly PCM temperature and precipitation changes werestatistically downscaled and temporally disaggregated to produce daily forcings that drove a macroscale hydrologic simulation model of the Columbia River basin at 1/4-degree spatial resolution.
Systems for management of water throughout the developed world have been designed and operated under the assumption of stationarity. Stationarity-the idea that natural systems fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability-is a foundational concept that permeates trainingand practice in water-resource engineering. It implies that any variable (e.g., annual streamflow or annual flood peak) has a time-invariant(or 1-year-periodic) probability density function (pdf), whose properties can be estimated from the instrument record. Under stationarity, pdf estimation errors are acknowledged, but have been assumed to be reducible by additional observations, more efficient estimators, or regional or paleohydrologic data. The pdfs, in turn, are used to evaluateand manage risks to water supplies, waterworks, and floodplains; annual global investment in water infrastructure exceeds U.S.$500 billion.
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) hydropower resource, central to the region's electricity supply, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Northwest Power andConservation Council (NWPCC), an interstate compact agency, has conducted long termplanning for the PNW electricity supply for its 2005 Power Plan. In formulating its power portfolio recommendation, the NWPCC explored uncertainty in variables that affect theavailability and cost of electricity over the next 20 years. The NWPCC conducted an initialassessment of potential impacts of climate change on the hydropower system, but these results are not incorporated in the riskmodel upon which the 2005 Plan recommendations are based. To assist in bringing climate information into the planning process, we present an assessment of uncertainty in future PNW hydropower generation potential based on a comprehensive set ofclimate models and greenhouse gas emissions pathways. We find that the prognosis for PNW hydropower supply under climate change is worse than anticipated by the NWPCC's assessment. Differences between the predictions of individual climate models are found to contribute more to overall uncertainty than do divergent emissions pathways. Uncertainty in predictions of precipitation change appears to bemore important with respect to impact on PNW hydropower than uncertainty in predictions of temperature change. We also find that a simple regression model captures nearly all of the response of a sequence of complex numerical models to large scale changes in climate. This result offers the possibility of streamlining both top-down impact assessment and bottom-up adaptation planning for PNW water and energy resources.
Climate change is likely to affect the generation of energy from California's high-elevation hydropower systems. To investigate these impacts, this study formulates alinear programming model of an 11-reservoir hydroelectric system operated by theSacramento Municipal Utility District in the Upper American River basin.