TRANSPOSED CLIMATES FOR STUDY OF WATER SUPPLY VARIABILITY ON THE LAURENTIAN GREAT LAKES

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Abstract

Hydrological models of the Great Lakes basin were used to study the sensitivity of Great Lakes water supplies to climate warming by driving them with meteorological data from four U.S. climate zones that were transposed to the basin. Widely different existing climates were selected for transposition in order to identify thresholds of change where major impacts on water supplies begin to occur and whether there are non-linear responses in the system. The climate zones each consist of 43 years of daily temperature and precipitation data for 1,000 or more stations and daily evaporation-related variables (temperature, wind speed, humidity, cloud cover) for approximately 20–35 stations. A key characteristic of these selected climates was much larger variability in inter-annual precipitation than currently experienced over the Great Lakes. Climate data were adjusted to simulate lake effects; however, a comparison of hydrologic results with and without lake effects showed that there was only minor effects on water supplies.

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