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Environment – Hotter urban hydrology

Researchers at Colorado State University and ORNL evaluated 14 urban megaregions to simulate the effects of climate change on water resources. Credit: CSU/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory worked with Colorado State University to simulate how a warming climate may affect urban hydrological systems in the United States.

ORNL’s Shih-Chieh Kao calibrated the University of Washington’s hydrological model to a higher resolution for project use by CSU. Researchers then modeled future precipitation scenarios to analyze possible climate conditions for 14 U.S. greater urban areas called “megaregions.”

Their published results show that Los Angeles and San Francisco may be relatively less arid than other megaregions as warming continues. Although temperatures in these two areas will rise, precipitation will likely also increase. However, Houston may become more arid than other megaregions, which could lead to constrained water resources.

“When we’re looking into the future, how to better manage water resources is a common challenge around the world,” Kao said. “For most of the megaregions, there’s a need to look into ways to better use our water so that we are less water dependent.” – Alexandra DeMarco