Regional Climate Model Simulations of 21st Century Flood Risk

Full Title

Estimates of Twenty-First Century Flood Risk in the Pacific Northwest Based on Regional Climate Model Simulations

Project Overview

Land use change and projected climate change have raised serious concerns about the future vulnerability of ecosystems and infrastructure worldwide to extreme drought and flooding events. Previous studies have projected widespread increases in flooding during the 21st century due to the combined effects of increasing cool season precipitation and rising snow levels during storms. In order to improve the simulation of future extreme storms and their effect on precipitation and runoff production, researchers applied regional climate model (RCM) simulations for streamflow projections over the Pacific Northwest. RCMs enable researchers to run more detailed climate simulations for a particular location or region. Results from these climate model simulations show large increases in future flood risk (2040-2069) in many Pacific Northwest river basins in the early fall. The two main causes for increases in future flood risk are: (1) more extreme and earlier storms, and (2) warming temperatures that shift precipitation from snow over to rain. This research suggests that future changes in extreme weather patterns will have serious implication for flood risk in the Pacific Northwest.

 Key Collaborators

* Indicates CIG Personnel or CIG Affiliate(s)

  • Eric Salath√© (Principal Investigator), University of Washington*
  • Alan Hamlet, University of Notre Dame
  • Clifford Mass, University of Washington
  • Se-Yeun Lee, University of Washington*
  • Matt Stumbaugh, University of Washington
  • Richard Steed, University of Washington*


U.S Army Corps of Engineers; National Science Foundation

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