Extreme events resulting in catastrophic damage have more than doubled in the last five years, costing hundreds of lives and thousands of homes, and heavily undermining regional economic stability. At present, most of these hydroclimatic extreme events are documented by the media as individual events; however, in scientific terms, many are better understood as concurrent events—concurrent extremes of both temperature and precipitation (e.g., drought, floods). This paper considers concurrent changes in hydroclimate extremes, including heatwaves, drought, flooding, and low flows, in six historical-to-future (1970–1999, 2070–2099) Earth System Model (ESM) climate scenarios for the Colorado River basin. Results indicate that temperature-driven Impacts
(heatwaves, drought) have the strongest responses while precipitation-driven Impacts
have weaker responses. All Impacts
exhibit an increase in magnitude from synoptic to annual time scales, with heatwaves increasing in strength about three times at the annual time scale versus the synoptic, while low flows only increase slightly. Critical watersheds in the Colorado were identified, highlighting the Blue River basin, Uncompahgre, East Taylor, Salt/Verde watersheds, locations of important water infrastructures, water resources, and hydrological research. Our results indicate that concurrent extreme hydroclimate events are projected to increase in the future and intensify within critical regions of the Colorado River basin. Considering extreme hydroclimate events concurrently is an important step towards linking economic and social effects of these events and their associated instabilities on a regional scale.
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