Evaluating The Use of Models for Projecting Future Water Flow in the Southeast

Jonathan Kennen, Ph.D., USGS, New Jersey Water Science Center and Stacy Nelson, Ph.D., Center for Geospatial Analytics, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University

Project Completion: July 2013. This project has now been completed.
Implements Science Plan Theme: 3

Overview

Stream flows are essential for maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems and for supporting human water supply needs. Integrated modeling approaches assessing the impact of changes in climate, land use, and water withdrawals on stream flows and the subsequent impact of changes in flow regime on aquatic biota at multiple spatial scales are necessary to insure an adequate supply of water for humans and healthy river ecosystems. Assessing the impact of flow alteration on aquatic ecosystems has been identified as a critical area of research nationally and in the Southeast U.S. This project aimed to address the Ecohydrology Priority Science Need of the SECSC FY2012 Annual Science Work Plan by developing an inventory and evaluation of current efforts and knowledge gaps in hydrological modeling for flow-ecology science in global change impact studies across the Southeast. To accomplish this goal, we completed a thorough synthesis and evaluation of hydrologic modeling efforts in the Southeast region (including all states of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia) and Puerto Rico. Because this modeling synthesis was performed comprehensively and using a consistent methodology, resource managers with a useful database of who is doing what, where, how, and how well in terms of hydrological modeling for global change impact studies across the Southeast region.

The objective of this proposal was to 1) inventory existing hydrologic modeling efforts in the Southeast region; 2) evaluate and compare performance of participating hydrologic models in predicting observed stream flows; 3) demonstrate the feasibility of using regional and local scale models to identify unique areas of concern and understand fine scale hydrologic dynamics for climate change assessment, respectively; and 4) synthesize the work on developing flow-ecology relationships in the region.