The effects of climate change and irrigation on criterion low streamflows used for determining total maximum daily loads

J. Wayland Eheart, Amy J. Wildermuth, Edwin E. Herricks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper addresses the possible impacts of global climate change on low streamflows in the Midwest, both directly, through lower precipitation, and indirectly, by rendering irrigation profitable in areas where it has found little application in the past. In the analysis presented here, streamflow data are altered to represent the effect of climate change and stream-supplied irrigation, and then used to estimate new values for two low-flow criteria, the one- and seven-day-ten-year low flows (7Q10 and 1Q10) under 20 climate change and irrigation scenarios. Additionally, the frequencies of violation of these two criteria, and multiple violations in a three-year period, are determined. Results show that the potential impact of the assumed climate change scenarios on low flow standards is substantial. A 25 percent decrease in mean precipitation results in a 63 percent reduction in design flow, even in the absence of irrigation. With irrigation, the reduction can he as much as 100 percent. The frequency of single violations of low flow criteria is found to increase several fold with irrigation. The frequency of multiple violations of low flow criteria in a three-year period is sensitive to climate change, increasing from around 20 percent to nearly 100 percent as the climate change becomes more severe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1372
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1999

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Low streamflow standards
  • Midwest
  • TMDL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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