Integrated analysis of water use for extreme events

Full Title

Competing Water Use in the Face of Climate Change: Integrated Analysis to Support Water Resource Planning for Extreme Events

Project Overview

In the Puget Sound region, climate change is altering the water cycle and water resource conditions, and the most disruptive effects are linked to extreme events such as low summer streamflow conditions and winter floods. Competing water uses will become increasingly important in the face of extreme events. Planning for extreme flooding events in coastal floodplains and estuaries will become more challenging with increased intensities of extreme rain events and shifts in run-off timing. This project addresses the most important water use issues for ecosystem sustainability and human resource needs. Through extensive stakeholder engagement and the development of critical water resource metrics and measures of fish habitat and human use, this project leverages existing climate, hydrological and coastal model simulations to develop a visualization-based decision-support tool to support water resource planning for extreme events.


The project makes use of existing products from UW-CIG’s archived regional climate simulations and PNNL’s hydrologic and coastal models to generate water resource metrics under different climatic extremes for the Puget Sound basin. We anticipate achieving the project goal through the following elements:

  • Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement. We are engaging with local stakeholders in Dungeness and Skagit basins to analyze existing water resource data and develop a set of water use measures/indices that are vulnerable to climate change and extreme events. Examples of water use measures include: threshold/minimum streamflows for fish sustainability; minimum river temperature for fish sustainability; and saltwater intrusion limits for maintaining salmon habitat. These competing needs and associated metrics will be gathered and weighed in cooperation with the stakeholders in each basin.
  • Model Simulations. We are conducting integrated model simulations using PNNL’s high resolution hydrologic and coastal ocean models, driven by the dynamical downscaling simulations from UW-CIG for the Dungeness and Skagit basins under various future climate scenarios. Stream temperature and flows will be simulated in the hydrologic model. Coastal flooding, salinity and temperature simulations for the Dungeness River and Skagit River estuaries will be driven by streamflow and temperature, atmospheric forcing and sea level rise.
  • Water Resource Metrics Analysis and Tool Development. Model results from the hydrological and coastal models will be used to develop water resource metrics that are critical to maintaining sustainable fish habitats and human use. We will generate products that will interpret and translate the model simulations into accessible formats with the use of multiple visualization platforms, for use by local managers and planners dealing with extreme events, in selected stream locations and river reaches.

Key Personnel

* Indicates CIG Personnel or CIG Affiliate(s)

  • Zhaoqing Yang (Principle Investigator), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Andrea Copping, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Nathalie Voisin, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Guillaume Mauger, University of Washington, Climate Impacts Group*
  • Ian Miller, Washington Sea Grant
  • Jude Apple, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Aimee Fullerton, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center


NOAA Climate Program Office, Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP)

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