Climate change impacts on agricultural watersheds are highly variable and uncertain across regions. This study estimated the potential impacts of the projected precipitation and temperature based on the downscaled Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP-5) on hydrology and crop yield of a rural watershed in Oklahoma, USA. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool was used to model the watershed with 43 sub-basins and 15,217 combinations of land use, land cover, soil, and slope. The model was driven by the observed climate in the watershed and was first calibrated and validated against the monthly observed streamflow. Three statistical matrices, coefficient of determination (R2
), Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE), and percentage bias (PB), were used to gauge the model performance with satisfactory values of R2
= 0.64, NS = 0.61, and PB = +5% in the calibration period, and R2
= 0.79, NSE = 0.62, and PB = −15% in the validation period for streamflow. The model parameterization for the yields of cotton (PB = −4.5%), grain sorghum (PB = −27.3%), and winter wheat (PB = −6.0%) resulted in an acceptable model performance. The CMIP-5 ensemble of three General Circulation Models under three Representative Concentration Pathways for the 2016–2040 period indicated an increase in both precipitation (+1.5%) and temperature (+1.8 °C) in the study area. This changed climate resulted in decreased evapotranspiration (−3.7%), increased water yield (23.9%), decreased wheat yield (−5.2%), decreased grain sorghum yield (−9.9%), and increased cotton yield (+54.2%) compared to the historical climate. The projected increase in water yield might provide opportunities for groundwater recharge and additional water to meet future water demand in the region. The projected decrease in winter wheat yield—the major crop in the state—due to climate change, may require attention for ways to mitigate these effects.
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