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Simulated impacts of climate change on phosphorus loading to Lake Michigan

June 22, 2016

Phosphorus (P) loading to the Great Lakes has caused various types of eutrophication problems. Future climatic changes may modify this loading because climatic models project changes in future meteorological conditions, especially for the key hydrologic driver — precipitation. Therefore, the goal of this study is to project how P loading may change from the range of projected climatic changes. To project the future response in P loading, the HydroSPARROW approach was developed that links results from two spatially explicit models, the SPAtially Referenced Regression on Watershed attributes (SPARROW) transport and fate watershed model and the water-quantity Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). PRMS was used to project changes in streamflow throughout the Lake Michigan Basin using downscaled meteorological data from eight General Circulation Models (GCMs) subjected to three greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Downscaled GCMs project a + 2.1 to + 4.0 °C change in average-annual air temperature (+ 2.6 °C average) and a − 5.1% to + 16.7% change in total annual precipitation (+ 5.1% average) for this geographic area by the middle of this century (2045–2065) and larger changes by the end of the century. The climatic changes by mid-century are projected to result in a − 21.2% to + 8.9% change in total annual streamflow (− 1.8% average) and a − 29.6% to + 17.2% change in total annual P loading (− 3.1% average). Although the average projected changes in streamflow and P loading are relatively small for the entire basin, considerable variability exists spatially and among GCMs because of their variability in projected future precipitation.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Simulated impacts of climate change on phosphorus loading to Lake Michigan
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2016.03.009
Authors Dale M. Robertson, David A. Saad, Daniel E. Christiansen, David J Lorenz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70171468
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wisconsin Water Science Center

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