Effects of climate change on streamflow extremes and implications for reservoir inflow in the United States Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2017 Elsevier B.V. The magnitude and frequency of hydrometeorological extremes are expected to increase in the conterminous United States (CONUS) over the rest of this century, and their increase will significantly impact water resource management. In this study, we evaluated the large-scale climate change effects on extreme hydrological events and their implications for reservoir inflows in 138 headwater subbasins located upstream of reservoirs across CONUS using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model. The VIC model was forced with a 10-member ensemble of global circulation models under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 that were dynamically downscaled using a regional climate model (RegCM4) and bias-corrected to 1/24° grid cell resolution. Four commonly used indices, including mean annual flow, annual center timing, 100-year daily high streamflow, and 10-year 7-day average low streamflow were used for evaluation. The results projected an increase in the high streamflow by 44% for a majority of subbasins upstream of flood control reservoirs in the central United States (US) and a decrease in the low streamflow by 11% for subbasins upstream of hydropower reservoirs across the western US. In the eastern US, frequencies of both high and low streamflow were projected to increase in the majority of subbasins upstream of both hydropower and flood control reservoirs. Increased frequencies of both high and low streamflow events can potentially make reservoirs across CONUS more vulnerable to future climate conditions. This study estimates reservoir inflow changes over the next several decades, which can be used to optimize water supply management downstream.

altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Naz, B. S., Kao, S., Ashfaq, M., Gao, H., Rastogi, D., & Gangrade, S.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Naz, Bibi S||Kao, Shih-Chieh||Ashfaq, Moetasim||Gao, Huilin||Rastogi, Deeksha||Gangrade, Sudershan

publication date

  • January 2018