Assessing the Impacts of Future Drought on the Reliability of the Colorado River Water Supply

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Southwest CASC researchers worked with water resource managers in the Upper Colorado River Basin to develop a collaborative approach for addressing future drought in the region. 

Image: Colorado River Runs Dry

The Colorado River running dry in southern California.

(Credit: Pete McBride, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Read the original news story posted by the Southwest CASC, here

Water resource management has become increasingly challenging due to the impacts of climate change (e.g. increasing temperatures and drought), and the growing demand on water resources. Through a Southwest-CASC funded study, researchers worked with water resource managers from the Upper Colorado River Basin to develop a collaborative research project to address future drought in the region. Based on water managers input, researchers examined future reductions in streamflow with elevated temperatures based on previous drought conditions. The researchers then identified metrics and thresholds that were meaningful to Colorado River Basin management for evaluating vulnerable areas in the Basin. Southwest CASC researchers, along with authors from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Reclamation, University of Arizona, and University of Nevada found that increased warming results in greater reductions of flow and lower runoff efficiency. Scientists worked with the water management community to ensure that the results were relevant and applicable to these users. 

This publication is a part of a larger project funded by the Southwest CASC, The Impacts of Climate Change and Water Supply Management on Fish in the Colorado River

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