ORNL/CDIAC-52

Climate Change and Water Supply, Management and Use: Literature Review
(May 1992)


H. Chang, J. D. Draves, and C. T. Hunsaker, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

There is evidence that concentrations of atmospheric CO2, tropospheric O3, and CH4, among other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, have increased in recent decades and that these changes may induce changes in global air temperatures and regional climate features in coming years. A literature review was conducted to sample the literature base on which our understanding of the water resource impacts of climate change rests. Water resource issues likely to be important include hydrologic response to climate change, the resilience of water supply systems to changing climatic and hydrologic conditions, and the effects of climate change on water quality and water uses (such as navigation and energy generation). A computer-assisted search of literature on the effects of climate change on these subjects was conducted. All studies were classified by type of paper (e.g., review, discussion, or case study), region, water resource variable studies, and source of climate scenario. The resulting bibliography containing more than 200 references was largely annotated. Case studies of potential hydrologic impacts have been more common than studies of impacts on water management or water use, but this apparent gap is closing. Case studies demonstrating methods of incorporating potential risks of climate change into water project planning and management have been performed. Considerable variability in regional coverage exists; the Great Lakes basin and California receive relatively more attention than such regions as New England and the Missouri River basin. General circulation mode-based and hypothetical climate scenarios have been the dominant sources of climate scenarios used in case studies, although a variety of other methods for developing climate scenarios have been developed.

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