Future climate change impacts on New Mexico's mountain sources of water

TitleFuture climate change impacts on New Mexico's mountain sources of water
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsRango A., Vivoni E, Gutzler D., Hurd B., Bestelmeyer BT
Conference NameProceedings of the 52nd Annual New Mexico Water Conference
Series TitleNew Mexico Water Conference
Number of VolumesWRRI Report No. 343
Date Published11/2007
PublisherWater Resources Research Institute
Conference LocationSanta Fe, New Mexico
ARIS Log Number222766
Keywordsarid, climate, New Mexico, proceedings, Rio Grande, semiarid rivers, sources, water
AbstractThe Rio Grande is one of the most important rivers in the western U.S. and is representative of mountain snowmelt basins in arid and semiarid regions around the world. As is true for many arid and semiarid rivers, the total available water supply is already exceeded by water demands. Dependable water supply comes from high elevation snowpacks that contribute 50-75% of the annual streamflow. Summer rainfall, which is sporadic and frequently of high intensity, supplies the remaining streamflow. Rapid changes in many mountain regions of the world are being experienced due to global climate change and anthropogenic effects. New Mexico water managers and decision makers urgently need knowledge of the potential effects of climate change on the state’s water resources. Research being done addresses this topic through the development of improved sensing and modeling infrastructure to estimate future changes in water supply from snow-dominated headwater basins. Existing climate change scenarios generated by general circulation and regional climate models are being utilized to develop reasonable forcing variables for basin hydrologic models which will be used as decision-making tools to evaluate the impact of climate changes in the basin. The hydrologic models being employed include the basin-wide Semi-distributed Land Use and Runoff Processes (SLURP) model that serves to integrate models operating on sub-catchments throughout the Rio Grande basin. The Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) is used to simulate and forecast flow in the mountainous snowmelt sub-basins and is directly linked to SLURP. SRM also has a formalized climate change algorithm useful in this study. Operating on smaller Rio Grande sub-basins, the TIN-based Real-Time Integrated Basin Simulator (tRIBS) is a distributed hydrologic model for streamflow forecasting and better understanding of processes active in producing runoff. Finally, the RioGEM hydro-economics model is being used to evaluate the benefits from different management strategies in response to hydrologic changes generated by SLURP, SRM, and tRIBS. The results of this project will address the important problem of how global warming will reduce our already overcommitted water supply and what economic and societal impacts will result.