Baseline Conditions and Projected Future Hydro-Climatic Change in National Parks in the Conterminous United States

Authors: W A Battaglin
Contribution Number: 765


Abstract: The National Park Service (NPS) manages hundreds of parks in the United States, and many contain important aquatic ecosystems and/or threatened and endangered aquatic species vulnerable to hydro-climatic change. More effective management of park resources under future hydro-climatic uncertainty requires information on both baseline conditions and the range of projected future conditions. A monthly water balance model was used to assess baseline (1981–1999) conditions and a range of projected future hydro-climatic conditions in 374 NPS parks. General circulation model outputs representing 214 future climate simulations were used to drive the model. Projected future changes in air temperature (T), precipitation (p), and runoff (R) are expressed as departures from historical baselines. Climate simulations indicate increasing T by 2030 for all parks with 50th percentile simulations projecting increases of 1.67 °C or more in 50% of parks. Departures in 2030 p indicate a mix of mostly increases and some decreases, with 50th percentile simulations projecting increases in p in more than 70% of parks. Departures in R for 2030 are mostly decreases, with the 50th percentile simulations projecting decreases in R in more than 50% of parks in all seasons except winter. Hence, in many NPS parks, R is projected to decrease even when p is projected to increase because of increasing T in all parks. Projected changes in future hydro-climatic conditions can also be assessed for individual parks, and Rocky Mountain National Park and Congaree National Park are used as examples.

Publication details
Published Date: 2020-06-15
Outlet/Publisher: Water 2020, 12(6), 1704;
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains - Water
Climate Change; Water
Place Names:
United States
climate; evapotranspiration; trends; water
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