Impact of climate change on projected runoff from mountain snowpack of the King’s Rivershed in California

TitleImpact of climate change on projected runoff from mountain snowpack of the King’s Rivershed in California
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDialesandro J, Elias E, Steele CM, Rango A
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union
Date Published12/2016
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Conference LocationSan Francisco
ARIS Log Number335674
The Central Valley of California, like most dryland agricultural areas in the Southwest United States, relies heavily on winter snowpack for water resources. Projections of future climate in the Sierra Mountains of California calls for a warmer climate regime that will impact the snowpack in the Sierra Mountains and thus the water supply for downstream agriculture and municipal uses within California’s Central Valley. We simulate the impacts of two future time windows (2040-2069 and 2070-2099) and two future climate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5) on King’s River using the Snowmelt Runoff Model. Snow depletion curves for 2010 are generated using MODIS and SRM parameters are adjusted until measured and simulated runoff reach acceptable agreement (R2 = .81). Future projections are based upon the multimodel mean of 20 CMIP5 models for seasonal future temperature and precipitation at high and low elevation points in the watershed from the multivariate adaptive constructed analogs (MACA) downscaled dataset. Changes in monthly inflow to Pineflat Reservoir, at the pour point of King’s River watersheds, show a large decline in June and July inflow for all future climate simulations. Conversely, simulated spring inflow to Pineflat Reservoir is larger in the future. Impacts are most pronounced for end of the century (2070-2099), business as usual (RCP 8.5) simulation. Results are discussed with regard to implications for reservoir storage, groundwater recharge and creative solutions to cope with anticipated changes in runoff.