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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #324085

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Impact of climate change on water quality of an impaired New Mexico river

Author
item Elias, Emile
item James, Darren
item Rango, Albert
item STEELE, CAITI - New Mexico State University
item SMITH, RYANN - New Mexico State University
item MEJIA, JOHN - Desert Research Institute

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2015
Publication Date: 10/9/2015
Citation: Elias, E.H., James, D.K., Rango, A., Steele, C., Smith, R., Mejia, J. 2015. Impact of climate change on water quality of an impaired New Mexico river [astract]. New Mexico Water Conference, October 9, 2015, Taos, NM. Poster Abstract 40.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Climate change is predicted to advance runoff timing in snowmelt basins and decrease available water, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. Researchers have suggested that the impacts of climate change will degrade water quality by reducing dilution. We use coupled snowmelt and water quality models to quantify the impacts of climate change on the Chama River, a New Mexico waterbody presently impaired to temperature, nutrients and pathogens. We use the Snowmelt Runoff Model and downscaled temperature and precipitation to simulate the impacts of a statistically selected range of future climate conditions (warmer/wetter; warmer/drier; hotter/wetter; hotter/drier) on streamflow. SRM streamflow for base and future scenarios is coupled with a water quality model (LOADEST) to evaluate the impacts of climate change on water quality. There is a shift in timing of the delivery of water quality loads with more early small peaks during autumn and winter and an earlier and lower peak in snow melt runoff loads. The impacts of climate change vary by hydrograph phase, with higher loads during baseflow, particularly for the hotter/wetter simulation, but lower loads during snowmelt runoff for all parameters. Water quality responses vary by parameter and year, indicating a range of impacts of climate change on water quality which should be evaluated separately for each parameter.