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Modeling managed flows in the Sacramento/San Joaquin watershed, California, under scenarios of future change for CASCaDE2

July 18, 2018

Projections of managed flows from the Sacramento River/San Joaquin River watershed, California, into the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta under scenarios of future climate change are needed for evaluations of potential impacts on water supply and estuarine ecosystems. A new, multiple-model approach for achieving this is described. First, downscaled global climate model outputs are used to drive an existing Variable Infiltration Capacity/Variable Infiltration Capacity Routing (VIC/RVIC) model of Sacramento/San Joaquin hydrology, resulting in projections of daily, unimpaired flows throughout the watershed. A management model, Computational Assessments of Scenarios of Change for the Delta Ecosystem phase 2 (CASCaDE2) modified CalSim (C2-CalSim), uses these projections as inputs and produces monthly estimates of reservoir and other infrastructure operations and resulting downstream managed flows. A historical resampling algorithm, CASCaDE2 resampling algorithm (CRESPI), also uses the projected daily unimpaired flows, along with historical managed flows, to estimate the daily variability in managed flows throughout the watershed. The monthly and daily managed-flow estimates are combined in a way that preserves the multi-decadal variability and century-scale trends produced by the C2-CalSim model and the day-to-day variability produced by the CRESPI algorithm. The performance of the new modeling approach is evaluated at major inflows to the Bay-Delta estuary using multiple metrics and found to be satisfactory for the purposes of future scenario evaluation.

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