USGS Integrated Watershed Scale Response to Global Change in Selected Basins Across the United States

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has utilized water availability models to project local-level climate change impacts in 14 water basins. To determine the sensitivity and potential effect of long-term climate change on the freshwater resources of the U.S., the USGS Global Change study, “An integrated watershed scale response to global change in selected basins across the United States” was started in 2008 and published its results in 2012. The long-term goal of this study is to provide the foundation for hydrologically based climate change studies across the nation.

USGS used downscaled projections from General Circulation Models (GCM), to predict the effect of climate change on temperature, precipitation, and emissions. USGS' Precipitation Runoff Modeling Systems (PRMS) applies this downscaled GMS information to local watersheds, allowing water managers to assess and react to specific impacts and changes. USGS analyzed the projected hydrologic conditions of the following basins:

  • Sprague River Basin, Oregon
  • Sagehen Creek Basin, California
  • Feather River Basin, California
  • Naches River Basin, Washington
  • Yampa River Basin, Colorado
  • East River Basin, Colorado
  • Black Earth Creek Basin, Wisconsin
  • Flint River Basin, Georgia
  • Pomperaug River Watershed, Connecticut
  • Clear Creek Basin, Iowa
  • Cathance Stream Basin, Maine
  • Trout Lake Basin, Wisconsin
  • Starkweather Coulee Basin, North Dakota
  • South Fork of the Flathead River, Montana


USGS produced a report for each basin, describing the methods, study area, model results, and a handful of recommendations based on the model projections. This local-level model application allows site-specific analysis and potentially planning.

USGS obtained the downscaled GMS models from a World Climate Research Programme archive and produced the PRMS models through the USGS National Research Program (NRP).




Publication Date: May 16, 2012

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