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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • coastal resource management;
  • development, land use change;
  • modeling;
  • southeast coastal plain;
  • stormwater runoff

Abstract

Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of non-point source pollution in urbanizing areas, and runoff effects will be exacerbated by climate's changing patterns of precipitation. To enhance understanding of impacts of development and climate change on stormwater runoff in small watersheds (< 6500 ha), we developed the Stormwater Runoff Modeling System (SWARM), a simple modeling system based on U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service curve number and unit hydrograph methods. The objective of this paper is to describe the applications possible with SWARM and to demonstrate its usefulness in exploring the impacts of development and climate change on runoff. Results encompass a range of impact scenarios. One development scenario shows that the amount of rainfall converted to runoff is 27% for an undeveloped area and 67% for a highly developed area. A climate scenario shows that the amount of rainfall converted to runoff in a medium developed area is 25% in drought conditions and 76% in wet conditions. User-friendly templates make SWARM a good tool for scientific research, for resource management and decision making, and for community science education. The modeling system also supports the investigation of social and economic impacts to communities as they adapt to increased development and climate change. Although we calibrated SWARM specifically to the southeast coastal plain, it can be applied to other regions by recalibrating parameters and modifying calculation templates. Published 2013. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.