High resolution modeling of the regional impacts of climate change on irrigation water demand

Abstract

In the Arkansas River Basin in southeastern Colorado, surface irrigation provides most of the water required for agriculture. Consequently, the region’s future could be significantly affected if climate change impacts the amount of water available for irrigation. A methodology to model the expected impacts of climate change on irrigation water demand in the region is described. The Integrated Decision Support Consumptive Use model, which accounts for spatial and temporal variability in evapotranspiration and precipitation, is used in conjunction with two climate scenarios from the Vegetation-Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project. The two scenarios were extracted and scaled down from two general circulation models (GCMs), the HAD from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and the CCC from the Canadian Climate Centre. The results show significant changes in the water demands of crops due to climate change. The HAD and CCC climate change scenarios both predict an increase in water demand. However, the projections of the two GCMs concerning the water available for irrigation differ significantly, reflecting the large degree of uncertainty concerning what the future impacts of climate change might be in the study region. As new or updated predictions become available, the methodology described here can be used to estimate the impacts of climate change. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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