Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Predictability of Seasonal Streamflow in a Changing Climate in the Sierra Nevada
Previous Article in Journal
Vulnerabilities and Adapting Irrigated and Rainfed Cotton to Climate Change in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region
Previous Article in Special Issue
Multiyear Rainfall and Temperature Trends in the Volta River Basin and their Potential Impact on Hydropower Generation in Ghana
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Climate 2016, 4(4), 56;

Climate Change Impacts on the Hydrological Processes of a Small Agricultural Watershed

Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47906, USA
Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER), Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX 76402, USA
Department of Plant Science, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA
Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Daniele Bocchiola, Claudio Cassardo and Guglielmina Diolaiuti
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 1 November 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 17 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources)
PDF [1556 KB, uploaded 18 November 2016]


Weather extremes and climate variability directly impact the hydrological cycle influencing agricultural productivity. The issues related to climate change are of prime concern for every nation as its implications are posing negative impacts on society. In this study, we used three climate change scenarios to simulate the impact on local hydrology of a small agricultural watershed. The three emission scenarios from the Special Report on Emission Scenarios, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 analyzed in this study were A2 (high emission), A1B (medium emission), and B1 (low emission). A process based hydrologic model SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) was calibrated and validated for the Skunk Creek Watershed located in eastern South Dakota. The model performance coefficients revealed a strong correlation between simulated and observed stream flow at both monthly and daily time step. The Nash Sutcliffe Efficiency for monthly model performace was 0.87 for the calibration period and 0.76 for validation period. The future climate scenarios were built for the mid-21st century time period ranging from 2046 to 2065. The future climate data analysis showed an increase in temperatures between 2.2 °C to 3.3 °C and a decrease in precipitation from 1.8% to 4.5% expected under three different climate change scenarios. A sharp decline in stream flow (95.92%–96.32%), run-off (83.46%–87.00%), total water yield (90.67%–91.60%), soil water storage (89.99%–92.47%), and seasonal snow melt (37.64%–43.06%) are predicted to occur by the mid-21st century. In addition, an increase in evapotranspirative losses (2%–3%) is expected to occur within the watershed when compared with the baseline period. Overall, these results indicate that the watershed is highly susceptible to hydrological and agricultural drought due to limited water availability. These results are limited to the available climate projections, and future refinement in projected climatic change data, at a finer regional scale would provide greater clarity. Nevertheless, models like SWAT are excellent means to test best management practices to mitigate the projected dry conditions in small agricultural waterhseds. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; SWAT; SRES scenarios; dry conditions; mitigation climate change; SWAT; SRES scenarios; dry conditions; mitigation

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Mehan, S.; Kannan, N.; Neupane, R.P.; McDaniel, R.; Kumar, S. Climate Change Impacts on the Hydrological Processes of a Small Agricultural Watershed. Climate 2016, 4, 56.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Climate EISSN 2225-1154 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top