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Assessing the relative effects of emissions, climate means, and variability on large water supply systems

TitleAssessing the relative effects of emissions, climate means, and variability on large water supply systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWhateley S, Brown C
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume43
Issue21
Start Page11,329
Pagination11,329–11,338
Date Published11/2016
Type of ArticleResearch
Abstract

Some of the greatest societal risks of climate change rise from the potential impacts to water supply. Yet prescribing adaptation policies in the near term is made difficult by the uncertainty in climate projections at relevant spatial scales and the conflating effects of uncertainties in emissions, model error, and internal variability. In this work, a new framework is implemented to explore the vulnerability of reservoir systems in the northeastern U.S. to climate change and attribute vulnerabilities to changes in mean climate, natural variability, or emission scenarios. Analysis of variance is used to explore the contributions of uncertainties to system performance. Diagnosing the relative risks to water supply will help water resource engineers better adapt to uncertain future conditions. The results indicate that uncertainty in water supply system performance can be attributed mostly to uncertainty in internal variability over policy-relevant planning horizons, and thus, adaptation efforts should focus on managing variability.

DOI10.1002/2016GL070241