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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Water Management and Systems Research » Research » Research Project #441153

Research Project: Evaluating the Agricultural Ecosystems Services (AgES) Watershed Versus Other Models in Snow-dominated Systems

Location: Water Management and Systems Research

Project Number: 3012-13660-010-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2022
End Date: Jun 1, 2024

We will examine mountainous regions in Colorado, specifically, the Uncompahgre and Rio Grande river basins. These locations have shown incongruent changes in streamflow, winter temperature, and winter precipitation from 1950 to present, demonstrating that the observed changes in Colorado are unique to each region. Our research has three primary objectives: 1. Use diverse datasets (streamflow, snowpack, and mesoscale meteorological forcing data) to compare hydrological models: USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System, PRMS; and the ARS Agroecosystem Services Model (AgES). 2. After calibration and evaluation of the hydrological models, examine the socio-economic implications related to snowpack and snowmelt runoff conditions over the recent past (2001 to 2013); and 3. Apply model and socio-economic findings to the late 21st century pseudo global warming (PGW) Weather Research and Forecasting model conditions to identify the implications of climate change to Colorado tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure.

We will use a variety of datasets and modeling efforts to address project objectives. For meteorological and precipitation data, we will use downscaled Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) runs from 2001 to 2013 plus a climate change forecasting dataset for the later part of the 21st Century. Streamflow data will be compiled from the USGS and Colorado's Division of Water Resources. Snowpack data will use NOAA's SNODAS dataset combined with the MODIS snow cover and snow fractional snow cover products. We will also use snowpack data from the Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) and NRCS Snotel network where available. Soil moisture data will be from Snotel sites (where soil moisture was installed). We will use two hydrologic models for this study: The USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) and the ARS Agroecosystem Services Model (AgES). Both models simulate all components of the hydrologic cycle at the watershed scale while considering climate, vegetation, geology, and human impacts on water. Our calibration period for both models will be 2001-2007 and 2008-2013 will be the model evaluation period. Models will be compared for performance on predicting streamflow, soil moisture, and snow water equivallent.