Special Issue "Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Quantity and Quality at Small Scale Watersheds"

A special issue of Climate (ISSN 2225-1154).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ying Ouyang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA, Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
Interests: hydrology; local climate; modeling; multivariate statistics; real-time water quality monitoring; water resources
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Sudhanshu Sekhar Panda
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institutional information: Institute for Environmental Spatial Analysis, University of North Georgia, Oakwood, GA 30566, USA
Interests: geospatial technology; geospatial model development and automation; water resources engineering & management; soil erosion & conservation; climate change impacted environmental management; precision agriculture & site specific crop/forage/forest management; WebGIS-based decision support system development; artificial intelligence
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Gary Feng
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research Unit, Crop Science Research Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, P. O. BOX 5367, 810 Highway 12 East, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
Interests: soil physics; soil health; vadose zone hydrology; surface-ground water interactions; carbon and nitrogen cycling; greenhouse gas emission; climate change impact; soil and water conservation; irrigation scheduling; agroecosystem modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue was inspired by the Hydrology–H030 Session of the 2019 AGU (America Geophysical Union) Fall Meeting. In recent years, simulating potential future vulnerability and sustainability of water resources due to climate change have mainly been focused on global and regional scale watersheds using climate change scenarios. These scenarios may have low resolution and may not be accurate for local watersheds. This topic addresses the impacts of climate change upon water quantity and quality at small-scale watersheds. Emphases are on climate-induced water resource vulnerabilities (e.g., flood, drought, groundwater depletion, evapotranspiration, and water pollution) and methodologies (e.g., computer modeling, field measurement, and management practice) employed to mitigation and adapt climate change impacts on water resources. Application implications to local water resource management should also be discussed in the papers.

Dr. Ying Ouyang
Prof. Dr. Sudhanshu Sekhar Panda
Dr. Gary Feng
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Adaption and mitigation 
  • Climate-induced impact
  • Hydrological process 
  • Small scale watershed
  • Water quality
  • Water resource management

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Conceptual Model for the Vulnerability Assessment of Springs in the Indian Himalayas
Climate 2021, 9(8), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9080121 - 23 Jul 2021
Viewed by 749
Abstract
The Indian Himalayan Region is home to nearly 50 million people, more than 50% of whom are dependent on springs for their sustenance. Sustainable management of the nearly 3 million springs in the region requires a framework to identify the springs most vulnerable [...] Read more.
The Indian Himalayan Region is home to nearly 50 million people, more than 50% of whom are dependent on springs for their sustenance. Sustainable management of the nearly 3 million springs in the region requires a framework to identify the springs most vulnerable to change agents which can be biophysical or socio-economic, internal or external. In this study, we conceptualize vulnerability in the Indian Himalayan springs. By way of a systematic review of the published literature and synthesis of research findings, a scheme of identifying and quantifying these change agents (stressors) is presented. The stressors are then causally linked to the characteristics of the springs using indicators, and the resulting impact and responses are discussed. These components, viz., stressors, state, impact, and response, and the linkages are used in the conceptual framework to assess the vulnerability of springs. A case study adopting the proposed conceptual model is discussed for Mathamali spring in the Western Himalayas. The conceptual model encourages quantification of stressors and promotes a convergence to an evidence-based decision support system for the management of springs and the dependent ecosystems from the threat due to human development and climate change. Full article
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Article
Water Quality Threats, Perceptions of Climate Change and Behavioral Responses among Farmers in the Ethiopian Rift Valley
Climate 2021, 9(6), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9060092 - 06 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1402
Abstract
This work aims to assess water quality for irrigated agriculture, alongside perceptions and adaptations of farmers to climate change in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). Climate change is expected to cause a rise in temperature and variability in rainfall in the region, reducing [...] Read more.
This work aims to assess water quality for irrigated agriculture, alongside perceptions and adaptations of farmers to climate change in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). Climate change is expected to cause a rise in temperature and variability in rainfall in the region, reducing surface water availability and raising dependence on groundwater. The study data come from surveys with 147 farmers living in the Ziway–Shala basin and water quality assessments of 162 samples from groundwater wells and surface water. Most groundwater samples were found to be unsuitable for long term agricultural use due to their high salinity and sodium adsorption ratio, which has implications for soil permeability, as well as elevated bicarbonate, boron and residual sodium carbonate concentrations. The survey data indicate that water sufficiency is a major concern for farmers that leads to frequent crop failures, especially due to erratic and insufficient rainfall. An important adaptation mechanism for farmers is the use of improved crop varieties, but major barriers to adaptation include a lack of access to irrigation water, credit or savings, appropriate seeds, and knowledge or information on weather and climate conditions. Local (development) agents are identified as vital to enhancing farmers’ knowledge of risks and solutions, and extension programs must therefore continue to promote resilience and adaptation in the area. Unfortunately, much of the MER groundwater that could be used to cope with declining viability of rainfed agriculture and surface water availability, is poor in quality. The use of saline groundwater could jeopardize the agricultural sector, and most notably commercial horticulture and floriculture activities. This study highlights the complex nexus of water quality and sufficiency challenges facing the agriculture sector in the region, and should help decision-makers to design feasible strategies for enhancing adaptation and food security. Full article
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Article
Assessment of the Water-Energy Nexus under Future Climate Change in the Nile River Basin
Climate 2021, 9(5), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9050084 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 927
Abstract
This study investigated the Water-Energy relationship in the Nile River Basin under changing climate conditions using an energy and water model. Climate change will likely affect both water and energy resources, which will create challenges for future planning and decision making, particularly considering [...] Read more.
This study investigated the Water-Energy relationship in the Nile River Basin under changing climate conditions using an energy and water model. Climate change will likely affect both water and energy resources, which will create challenges for future planning and decision making, particularly considering the uncertainty surrounding the direction and magnitude of such effects. According to the assessment model, when countries depend heavily on hydropower for energy, power generation is determined by climate variability. For example, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan are more hydropower-dependent than Burundi or Rwanda. As a result, the trading relationships and economic gains of these countries shift according to climate variability. Among 18 climate scenarios, four demonstrate a change in climate and runoff. Under these scenarios, trading partnerships and economic gains will favor Ethiopia and Egypt instead of Sudan and Egypt. This study examines the extent of potential climate challenges, their effects on the Nile River Basin, and recommends several solutions for environmental planners and decision makers. Although the proposed model has the novel ability of conducting scientific analyses with limited data, this research is still limited by data accessibility. Finally, the study will contribute to the literature on the climate chamber effects on regional and international trade. Full article
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Article
Monthly and Seasonal Drought Characterization Using GRACE-Based Groundwater Drought Index and Its Link to Teleconnections across South Indian River Basins
Climate 2021, 9(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9040056 - 03 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1016
Abstract
Traditional drought monitoring is based on observed data from both meteorological and hydrological stations. Due to the scarcity of station observation data, it is difficult to obtain accurate drought distribution characteristics, and also tedious to replicate the large-scale information of drought. Thus, Gravity [...] Read more.
Traditional drought monitoring is based on observed data from both meteorological and hydrological stations. Due to the scarcity of station observation data, it is difficult to obtain accurate drought distribution characteristics, and also tedious to replicate the large-scale information of drought. Thus, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data are utilized in monitoring and characterizing regional droughts where ground station data is limited. In this study, we analyzed and assessed the drought characteristics utilizing the GRACE Groundwater Drought Index (GGDI) over four major river basins in India during the period of 2003–2016. The spatial distribution, temporal evolution of drought, and trend characteristics were analyzed using GGDI. Then, the relationship between GGDI and climate factors were evaluated by the method of wavelet coherence. The results indicate the following points: GRACE’s quantitative results were consistent and robust for drought assessment; out of the four basins, severe drought was noticed in the Cauvery river basin between 2012 and 2015, with severity of −27 and duration of 42 months; other than Godavari river basin, the remaining three basins displayed significant negative trends at monthly and seasonal scales; the wavelet coherence method revealed that climate factors had a substantial effect on GGDI, and the impact of Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) on drought was significantly high, followed by Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Index (namely, NINO3.4) and Multivariate El Niño–Southern Oscillation Index (MEI) in all the basins. This study provides reliable and robust quantitative result of GRACE water storage variations that shares new insights for further drought investigation. Full article
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Article
Assessing Future Impacts of Climate Change on Streamflow within the Alabama River Basin
Climate 2021, 9(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9040055 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 925
Abstract
Global climate change is expected to impact future precipitation and surface temperature trends and could alter local hydrologic systems. This study assessed the likely hydrologic responses and changes in streamflow due to future climate change within the Alabama River Basin (ARB) for the [...] Read more.
Global climate change is expected to impact future precipitation and surface temperature trends and could alter local hydrologic systems. This study assessed the likely hydrologic responses and changes in streamflow due to future climate change within the Alabama River Basin (ARB) for the mid-21st century 2045 (“2030–2060”) and end-21st century 2075 (“2060–2090”). Using an integrated modeling approach, General Circulation Model (GCM) datasets; the Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques Climate Model 5 (CNRM-CM5), the Community Earth System Model, version 1–Biogeochemistry (CESM1- BGC.1), and the Hadley Centre Global Environment Model version 2 (HADGEM2-AO.1), under medium Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5, and based on World Climate Research Program (WCRP)’s Couple Model Intercomparison Phase 5 (CMIP5), were assimilated into calibrated Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Mann–Kendall and Theil Sen’s slope were used to assess the trends and magnitude of variability of the historical climate data used for setting up the model. The model calibration showed goodness of fit with minimum Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency (NSE) coefficient values of 0.83 and Coefficient of Determination (R2) of 0.88 for the three gages within the ARB. Next, the research assessed changes in streamflow for the years 2045 and 2075 against that of the reference baseline year of 1980. The results indicate situations of likely increase and decrease in mean monthly streamflow discharge and increase in the frequency and variability in peak flows during the periods from the mid to end of the 21st century. Seasonally, monthly streamflow increases between 50% and 250% were found for spring and autumn months with decreases in summer months for 2045. Spring and summer months for 2075 resulted in increased monthly streamflow between 50% and 300%, while autumn and spring months experienced decreased streamflow. While the results are prone to inherent uncertainties in the downscaled GCM data used, the simulated dynamics in streamflow and water availability provide critical information for stakeholders to develop sustainable water management and climate change adaptation options for the ARB. Full article
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Article
Projected Changes in Water Year Types and Hydrological Drought in California’s Central Valley in the 21st Century
Climate 2021, 9(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9020026 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1594
Abstract
The study explores the potential changes in water year types and hydrological droughts as well as runoff, based on which the former two metrics are calculated in the Central Valley of California, United States, in the 21st century. The latest operative projections from [...] Read more.
The study explores the potential changes in water year types and hydrological droughts as well as runoff, based on which the former two metrics are calculated in the Central Valley of California, United States, in the 21st century. The latest operative projections from four representative climate models under two greenhouse-gas emission scenarios are employed for this purpose. The study shows that the temporal distribution of annual runoff is expected to change in terms of shifting more volume to the wet season (October–March) from the snowmelt season (April–July). Increases in wet season runoff volume are more noticeable under the higher (versus lower) emission scenario, while decreases in snowmelt season runoff are generally more significant under the lower (versus higher) emission scenario. In comparison, changes in the water year types are more influenced by climate models rather than emission scenarios. When comparing two regions in the Central Valley, the rain-dominated Sacramento River region is projected to experience more wet years and less critical years than the snow-dominated San Joaquin River region due to their hydroclimatic and geographic differences. Hydrological droughts in the snowmelt season and wet season mostly exhibit upward and downward trends, respectively. However, the uncertainty in the direction of the trend on annual and multi-year scales tends to be climate-model dependent. Overall, this study highlights non-stationarity and long-term uncertainty in these study metrics. They need to be considered when developing adaptive water resources management strategies, some of which are discussed in the study. Full article
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Article
A Model to Assess Eastern Cottonwood Water Flow Using Adjusted Vapor Pressure Deficit Associated with a Climate Change Impact Application
Climate 2021, 9(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9020022 - 23 Jan 2021
Viewed by 974
Abstract
Short-rotation woody crops have maintained global prominence as biomass feedstocks for bioenergy, in part due to their fast growth and coppicing ability. However, the water usage efficiency of some woody biomass crops suggests potential adverse hydrological impacts. Monitoring tree water use in large-scale [...] Read more.
Short-rotation woody crops have maintained global prominence as biomass feedstocks for bioenergy, in part due to their fast growth and coppicing ability. However, the water usage efficiency of some woody biomass crops suggests potential adverse hydrological impacts. Monitoring tree water use in large-scale plantations would be very time-consuming and cost-prohibitive because it would typically require the installation and maintenance of sap flux sensors and dataloggers or other instruments. We developed a model to estimate the sap flux of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides. Bartr. ex Marsh.)) grown in bioenergy plantations. This model is based on adjusted vapor pressure deficit (VPD) using Structural Thinking and Experiential Learning Laboratory with Animation (STELLA) software (Architect Version 1.8.2), and is validated using the sap flux data collected from a 4-year-old eastern cottonwood biomass production plantation. With R2 values greater than 0.79 and Nash Sutcliffe coefficients greater than 0.69 and p values < 0.001, a strong agreement was obtained between measured and predicted diurnal sap flux patterns and annual sap flux cycles. We further validated the model using eastern cottonwood sap flux data from Aiken, South Carolina, USA with a good agreement between method predictions and field measurements. The model was able to predict a typical diurnal pattern, with sap flux density increasing during the day and decreasing at night for a 5-year-old cottonwood plantation. We found that a 10% increase in VPD due to climate change increased the sap flux of eastern cottonwood by about 5%. Our model also forecasted annual sap flux characteristics of measured cycles that increased in the spring, reached a maximum in the summer, and decreased in the fall. The model developed here can be adapted to estimate sap flux of other trees species in a time- and cost-effective manner. Full article
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Article
The Spatiotemporal Patterns of Climate Asymmetric Warming and Vegetation Activities in an Arid and Semiarid Region
Climate 2020, 8(12), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8120145 - 10 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Asymmetric warming was bound to have a major impact on terrestrial ecosystems in arid regions during global warming. Further study was necessary to reveal the spatiotemporal patterns of asymmetric warming in Xinjiang; this study analyzed the climate and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) [...] Read more.
Asymmetric warming was bound to have a major impact on terrestrial ecosystems in arid regions during global warming. Further study was necessary to reveal the spatiotemporal patterns of asymmetric warming in Xinjiang; this study analyzed the climate and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data (2000–2020). The change trends of the day and nighttime warming (DNW), seasonal warming, and the diurnal temperature range in northern Xinjiang (S1) and southern Xinjiang (S2) were determined. The findings indicated that the DNW rate showed a significant (p < 0.05) upward trend, especially in winter. The nighttime warming rate (0.65 °C (decade)−1) was faster than the daytime warming rate (0.4 °C (decade)−1), and the diurnal temperature range between daytime and nighttime exhibited a decreasing trend. The diurnal temperature range was the highest in spring and the lowest in winter. Extreme values of the diurnal temperature range appeared in autumn (48.6 °C) and winter (12.3 °C) and both in S1. The Tmin in S1 had an abruption trend in 2006–2017, the Tmax in S2 had an abruption trend in 2005–2011, and the probability of spatial abruption in S1 was higher than that in S2. The partial correlation between the NDVI and Tmin was significantly higher than that between the NDVI and Tmax in the area where the significance test passed; therefore, asymmetric nighttime warming had a greater impact on the NDVI than the asymmetric daytime warming. Full article
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Article
Using AnnAGNPS to Simulate Runoff, Nutrient, and Sediment Loads in an Agricultural Catchment with an On-Farm Water Storage System
Climate 2020, 8(11), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8110133 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
On-farm water storage (OFWS) systems are best management practices that consist of a tailwater recovery (TWR) ditch used with a storage pond to provide irrigation water and improve downstream water quality. These systems have been increasingly implemented in the southeastern US, but the [...] Read more.
On-farm water storage (OFWS) systems are best management practices that consist of a tailwater recovery (TWR) ditch used with a storage pond to provide irrigation water and improve downstream water quality. These systems have been increasingly implemented in the southeastern US, but the individual and cumulative effects of these systems on a watershed scale are unknown. In this study, the runoff, nutrient, and sediment loads entering a TWR ditch in an agricultural catchment were quantified, and contributing sources were identified using the annualized agricultural non-point source (AnnAGNPS) model. Fields with larger areas and soils with a high runoff potential produced more runoff. The volume of runoff exceeded the TWR ditch storage volume approximately 110 times, mostly during the winter and spring seasons. During years when corn and winter wheat were planted, NO3–N loads increased because these crops need nitrogen fertilization to grow. Planting winter wheat in priority subwatersheds reduced the total phosphorous (TP) and sediment loads by about 19% and 13%, respectively, at the TWR ditch inlet. Planting winter wheat can reduce runoff, TP, and sediment loads but also result in higher NO3–N loads. AnnAGNPS simulations quantified the benefits of an OFWS system to advance the understanding of their impact on water availability and quality at a watershed scale. Full article
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Article
Climate Drivers and Sources of Sediment and Organic Matter Fluxes in Intermittent Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (IRES) of a Subtropical Watershed, USA
Climate 2020, 8(10), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8100117 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1289
Abstract
Climate-driven hydrological models rarely incorporate intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES) due to monitoring difficulties and their perceived minor effect on river networks. Worldwide, IRES represent approximately 50% of river networks and up to 60% of annual flow and are recognized as conduits [...] Read more.
Climate-driven hydrological models rarely incorporate intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES) due to monitoring difficulties and their perceived minor effect on river networks. Worldwide, IRES represent approximately 50% of river networks and up to 60% of annual flow and are recognized as conduits and processors of organic matter (OM). Climate induced changes in precipitation and discharge (Q) may impact OM fluxes from IRES. We assessed storm-driven source and flux of total suspended solids (TSS) and OM from small IRES in Mississippi, USA. We used linear Pearson correlations to evaluate relationships between water and storm characteristics (e.g., discharge). Stepwise regression was used to predict change in flux. Dissolved OM was derived from saturated flow through soil whereas particulate OM was derived from channel extension during storms. A power log relationship between Q and materials flux indicated that Q was the driver for flux. A 5% increase in Q within IRES may result in flux increase of 2% TSS and 1.7–2.8% OM. Climate change projections of increased storm intensity over a shorter water year will increase channel extension and soil water transfer resulting in higher material flux to downstream reaches. Climate-driven hydrological models of OM flux should incorporate IRES. Full article
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Article
Selection of Effective GCM Bias Correction Methods and Evaluation of Hydrological Response under Future Climate Scenarios
Climate 2020, 8(10), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8100108 - 30 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1202
Abstract
Global climate change is presenting a variety of challenges to hydrology and water resources because it strongly affects the hydrologic cycle, runoff, and water supply and demand. In this study, we assessed the effects of climate change scenarios on hydrological variables (i.e., evapotranspiration [...] Read more.
Global climate change is presenting a variety of challenges to hydrology and water resources because it strongly affects the hydrologic cycle, runoff, and water supply and demand. In this study, we assessed the effects of climate change scenarios on hydrological variables (i.e., evapotranspiration and runoff) by linking the outputs from the global climate model (GCM) with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for a case study in the Lijiang River Basin, China. We selected a variety of bias correction methods and their combinations to correct the lower resolution GCM outputs of both precipitation and temperature. Then, the SWAT model was calibrated and validated using the observed flow data and corrected historical GCM with the optimal correction method selected. Hydrological variables were simulated using the SWAT model under emission scenarios RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5. The results demonstrated that correcting methods have a positive effect on both daily precipitation and temperature, and a hybrid method of bias correction contributes to increased performance in most cases and scenarios. Based on the bias corrected scenarios, precipitation annual average, temperature, and evapotranspiration will increase. In the case of precipitation and runoff, projection scenarios show an increase compared with the historical trends, and the monthly distribution of precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff shows an uneven distribution compared with baseline. This study provides an insight on how to choose a proper GCM and bias correction method and a helpful guide for local water resources management. Full article
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