Cooperative Water Program
Products > Climate and Land-use Change
Saltwater Intrusion Along Georgia and South Carolina Coasts and Relations to Climate Change –USGS, in cooperation with the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, simulated salinity intrusion along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. Research shows that the availability of freshwater in coastal streams will likely be affected in the future due to the combination of climate change and sea-level rise. Climate-change projections based on a global circulation model, predict changes in precipitation and temperature, and indicate that for one intake the annual number of salinity intrusion events will increase and there would be a seasonal shift, with most salinity intrusion events occurring in the fall rather than the summer. Two new decision support systems, developed as part of the effort, will help decision makers determine how much drinking water they will be able to pull from rivers in the face of climate change, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion. (Press release; Report)
Possible Effects of Sea Level Rise on Groundwater Levels in New Haven, Connecticut –USGS, in cooperation with Yale University, conducted a preliminary investigation of the effects of sea-level rise on groundwater levels in New Haven, Connecticut. A preliminary steady-state model of groundwater flow for part of New Haven was constructed using MODFLOW to simulate current groundwater levels (2009–2010) and future groundwater levels based on scenarios with a rise of 3 feet (0.91 meters (m)) in sea level, which is predicted for the end of the 21st century. An additional simulation was run assuming a 3-ft rise in sea level combined with a 12-percent increase in groundwater recharge. The model was constructed from existing hydrogeologic information for the New Haven area and from new information on groundwater levels collected during October 2009–June 2010. (Full Report)
Monitoring erosion with drones in South Dakota –Unmanned aerial systems, or drones, were used along the Missouri River in the summer of 2012 as it flows through the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota. The monitoring was geared to investigate the location and severity of erosion and the lasting impacts of cultural and environmental losses. In 2011, a drone was used to capture pictures of the same 7-mile stretch of river. The USGS and Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Environmental Protection Office will compare the shots from each year and look for changes. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe estimates that up to eight feet of riverbank are eroding each year.
USGS Details Effects of Climate Change on Water Availability in 14 Local Basins Nationwide –The USGS National Research Program, in cooperation with USGS Water Science Centers, has released modeling studies that project changes in water availability due to climate change at the local level. So far, the USGS has applied these models to fourteen basins across the U.S., from Oregon to Maine. These local-scale hydrologic models will allow managers to plan for changes in water resources that are specific to their area. For example, the USGS models project that changes to snow pack in the Sprague River Basin in Oregon could cause annual peak streamflows to occur earlier in the spring as overall basin storage decreases, which may force managers to modify storage operation and reprioritize water deliveries for environmental and human needs. Reduced snowpack in headwaters of the Colorado River could affect the amount and timing of streamflow to the Colorado River and also impact important recreation areas. Portions of Maine may see higher streamflows which could affect populations of endangered Atlantic salmon. Areas of the already drought-stressed Flint River Basin, one of Atlanta’s primary drinking water supplies, are projected to become even drier. (Press release)
Salinity and selenium associated with land-use change in western Colorado –USGS, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum, and the Colorado River Water Conservation District, developed a study to characterize salinity and selenium loading and how salinity and selenium sources may relate to land-use change in Montrose Arroyo, an approximately 8-square-mile watershed in Montrose County in western Colorado. This report characterizes changes in salinity and selenium loading to Montrose Arroyo from March 1992 to February 2010 and the magnitude of land-use change between non-irrigated desert, irrigated agriculture, and urban land-use/land-cover types, and discusses how the respective loads may relate to land-use change.
Sea-level rises and increasing salinity in southeastern Virginia tributaries to Chesapeake Bay –As a result of climate change and variability, sea level is rising throughout the world, but the rate along the east coast of the United States is higher than the global mean rate. USGS, cooperation with the City of Newport News Waterworks, conducted a study to evaluate and model the effects of possible future sea-level rise on the salinity front in two tributaries to Chesapeake Bay, the York River, and the Chickahominy/James River estuaries. Findings are used to evaluate “safe yields” for drinking-water intakes along the tributaries.