POTENTIAL CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON WATER RESOURCES IN THE GREAT PLAINS1

Authors

  • Dennis Ojima,

  • Luis Garcia,

  • E. Elgaali,

  • Kathleen Miller,

  • Timothy G. F. Kittel,

  • Jill Lackett

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    • 2

      Respectively, Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523–1499; Associate Professor and Graduate Student, Department of Chemical and Bioresource Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523–3281; Scientist III, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307; Scientist/Acting Section Head, Ecosystem Dynamics and the Atmosphere Section, CGD, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado 80307; and Research Associate, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523–1499 (E-Mail/Ojima: dennis@nrel.colostate.edu).


  • 1

    Paper No. 99100 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.Discussions are open until August 1, 2000.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: This paper reports on the current assessment of climate impacts on water resources, including aquatic ecosystems, agricultural demands, and water management, in the U.S. Great Plains. Climate change in the region may have profound effects on agricultural users, aquatic ecosystems, and urban and industrial users alike. In the central Great Plains Region, the potential impacts of climate changes include changes in winter snowfall and snow-melt, growing season rainfall amounts and intensities, minimum winter temperature, and summer time average temperature. Specifically, results from general circulation models indicate that both annual average temperatures and total annual precipitation will increase over the region. However, the seasonal patterns are not uniform. The combined effect of these changes in weather patterns and average seasonal climate will affect numerous sectors critical to the economic, social and ecological welfare of this region. Research is needed to better address the current competition among the water needs of agriculture, urban and industrial uses, and natural ecosystems, and then to look at potential changes. These diverse demands on water needs in this region compound the difficulty in managing water use and projecting the impact of climate changes among the various critical sectors in this region.

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