Observations have shown the hydrological cycle of the western U.S. changed significantly over the last half of the twentieth century. In an Office of Science sponsored study published in a recent issue of Science Express, Barnett et. al., present results of a regional, multivariable climate-change detection and attribution study, using a high-resolution hydrologic model forced by global climate models. They focus on changes that have already affected this primarily arid region with a large and growing population. The researchers conclude that up to 60% of the climate related trends of river flow, winter air temperature and snow pack between 1950-1999 are human-induced. These results, in conjunction with previous work, suggest a coming crisis in water supply for the western United States.
Reference: Barnett, T.P., D.W. Pierce, H.G. Hidalgo, C. Bonfils. B.D. Santer, T. Das, G. Bala, A.W. Wood, T. Nozawa, A.A. Mirin, D.R. Cayan, and M.D. Dettinger. 2008. "Human-induced changes in the hydrology of the western United States," Science Express, Jan 31, 2008.
Contact: Anjuli Bamzai, SC-23.3, (301) 903-0294
SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
(formerly SC-23.3 Climate Change Research Division, OBER)
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