Effects of Urbanization and Climate Change on Peak Flows over the San Antonio River Basin, Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016 American Meteorological Society. A thorough understanding of the peak flows under urbanization and climate change-with the associated uncertainties-is indispensable for mitigating the negative social, economic, and environmental impacts from flooding. In this paper, a case study was conducted by applying the Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model (DHSVM) to the San Antonio River basin (SARB), Texas. Historical and future land-cover maps were assembled to represent the urbanization process. Future climate and its uncertainties were represented by a series of designed scenarios using the Change Factor (CF) method. The factors were calculated by comparing the model ensemble from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) with baseline historical climatology during two future periods (2020-49, period 1; 2070-99, period 2). It was found that with urban impervious areas increasing alone, annual peak flows may increase from 601 (period 1) to 885 m3 s-1 (period 2). With regard to climate change, annual peak flows driven by forcings from maximum, median, and minimum CFs under four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) were analyzed. While the median values of future annual peak flows-forced by the median CF values-are very similar to the baseline under all RCPs, in each case the uncertainty range (calculated as the difference between annual peak flows driven by the maximum and minimum CFs) is very large. When urbanization and climate change coevolve, these averaged annual peak flows from the four RCPs will increase from 447 (period 1) to 707 m3 s-1 (period 2), with the uncertainties associated with climate change more than 3 times greater than those from urbanization.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhao, G., Gao, H., & Cuo, L.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Zhao, Gang||Gao, Huilin||Cuo, Lan

publication date

  • September 2016