Big Wood Basin Explorer
Assessing water futures under alternative climate and management scenarios
Table of Contents
How To Use This Site
Envision Model Overview
Climate Model Selection
Population and Land Use
Spatial Data Access
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Primary conclusions from this study include:
Warming is likely to continue in Basin regardless of climate scenario. Based on the models used in this study, temperatures may increase anywhere from 4 to 11 degrees fahrenheit by 2070.
As a result of this warming, snowpacks will be smaller and melt earlier in the year.
With reduced snowpacks, water supplies will flow earlier in the year at expense of flows when they are needed later in the year.
Under water use practices and population growth, demand is expected to increase for ALL water users in the basin, but the study findings suggest that Management Matters for both Municipal and Agricultural uses.
In particular, the ‘more managed’ scenarios suggest that despite population increases and warming temperatures, water demand can remain fairly stable with investments in water use efficiency, crops selection, and limiting expansion of acres agricutlural land.
Summary of key findings from each storyline
Air temperatures are predicted to increase in all future climate scenarios.
Compared to past climate (1980-2010) temperatures may increase between 4 degrees F in the low change scenario and up to 11 degrees F in the warm/dry scenario by 2070.
The average change across all three climate scenarios is approximately 7.5 degrees F warmer than the 1980-2010 average.
Precipitation has historically been highly variable and this variability is projected to continue into the future.
The warmer/wetter scenario seems to predict amplified wet years and dry years compared to the historical period.
The other two climate scenarios show no clear trends in the amount of precipitation expected over the course of a year.
Snowpack has declined over the last 30 years.
It is difficult to identify a consistent future trend in the volume of peak snowpack across the scenarios.
However, all scenarios suggest a change in the timing of the peak seasonal snowpack (historically found near April 1) which may occur up to 6 weeks earlier.
High elevation snowpack, where most of the basin’s snow occurs, will be most impacted.
Current streamflows today are significantly influenced by snowpacks, nature’s ‘free-water reservoir’
Snowpack in the basin declines throughout the study period as a result of seasonal temperature increases.
Loss of snowpacks lead to earlier stream flows in the basin and diminished stream flow ‘peaks’ that historically occurred in spring.
Loss of spring stream flow peaks are most pronounced on Camas Creek but occur in all streams and scenarios.
Water demand varies widely by sector and by management scenario. Because of it's extensive area in the basin, natural shrubland is estimated to be the largest "consumer" of water in the basin, followed by agriculture and forest vegetation.
It is also clear from these results that for "agriculture boom" scenarios, management matters; there are quite marked differences between less managed and more managed scenarios. In the less managed scenarios, agricultural water demand is projected to increase by roughly 50%, while under the more managed scenario, agricultural water demand stays roughly constant, despite increasing temperatures and a robust agricultural sector. In the "tourist boom" scenarios, agricultural water use either stays flat (less managed) or decreases (more managed).
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Funding for this effort has been provided by the following
Contact: John Bolte, Biological & Ecological Engineering Department, Oregon State University