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      Climate change. Stationarity is dead: whither water management?

      Science (New York, N.Y.)

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          Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming

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            Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions.

            All currently available climate models predict a near-surface warming trend under the influence of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition to the direct effects on climate--for example, on the frequency of heatwaves--this increase in surface temperatures has important consequences for the hydrological cycle, particularly in regions where water supply is currently dominated by melting snow or ice. In a warmer world, less winter precipitation falls as snow and the melting of winter snow occurs earlier in spring. Even without any changes in precipitation intensity, both of these effects lead to a shift in peak river runoff to winter and early spring, away from summer and autumn when demand is highest. Where storage capacities are not sufficient, much of the winter runoff will immediately be lost to the oceans. With more than one-sixth of the Earth's population relying on glaciers and seasonal snow packs for their water supply, the consequences of these hydrological changes for future water availability--predicted with high confidence and already diagnosed in some regions--are likely to be severe.
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              Model projections of an imminent transition to a more arid climate in southwestern North America.

              How anthropogenic climate change will affect hydroclimate in the arid regions of southwestern North America has implications for the allocation of water resources and the course of regional development. Here we show that there is a broad consensus among climate models that this region will dry in the 21st century and that the transition to a more arid climate should already be under way. If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1126/science.1151915
                18239110

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