Submitted to: Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP)
Publication Type: Monograph
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.
Technical Abstract: Climate change is likely to intensify the circulation of water, which will shift spatial and temporal availability of snowmelt and runoff. In addition, drought and floods are likely to be more frequent, severe and widespread. Higher air temperatures will lead to higher ocean temperatures, elevating sea levels and provide energy for the formation of hurricanes and tropical storms. The relationship between past geological climatic data and climate change indicates that cultures that could not adapt to climate change were not able to outlive the climate change impacts. This chapter seeks to determine how hydrologists, water managers, lawyers, environmentalists, and individual citizens take a leading role in assisting societies to cope and adapt to these changes. This chapter examines these coping mechanisms within the Hydrology for Environment, Life, and Policy (HELP) framework of dialogue among all stakeholders. In general, the stakeholders agree that there is need to work towards creating resilient systems that can withstand the negative impacts of climate change. Case studies show examples of how North American HELP Basins are adapting to climate change. In the Washita River Basin in Oklahoma, resilient no-till land management fields were able to withstand massive soil erosion due to the 2007 Tropical Storm Erin, which dropped over 9 inches of rain in a few hours, whereas the conventionally tilled fields could not. In the Willamette River basin of Oregon, climate-induced urban water demand and growing population in cities poses a potential challenge for regional water providers. One viable strategy of adapting to climate change in Willamette River basin is to through smart municipal planning such as high-density urban development, which promotes lower per household water consumption. In the San Pedro Basin in Arizona, the Upper San Pedro Partnership adopted water augmentation approach to mitigate against climate change impacts such as extended drought. The Partnership identified 3 major alternative augmentation strategies namely intra-basin, inter-basin and local storm water capture that are used in water management decisions. Finally, the study recommends that researchers and scientists clearly communicate the potential impacts of climate change and propose specific ways to improve water resources resiliency. Sustainable management of water resources should include assessment of both uncertainties and risk. It is also recommended that UNESCO, expand the scope of integrated water resources management to incorporate uncertainty its sustainable water management strategies.