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Climate Change and Shifts in Water Related Ecosystem Services in the Tualatin and Yamhill River Basins

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  • Water related ecosystem services (WES), such as flow regulation, drinking water supply, temperature regulation, and water recreational activities, are affected by anthropogenic climate change. Forecasting potential shifts in such WES is critical to identifying the form and magnitude of likely impacts. We quantified the levels and values of WES under multiple climate change scenarios in the two watersheds located in the Portland metropolitan area, Oregon, USA using the combination of a hydrologic model Better Assessment Science Integrating point and Non-point Sources - Soil and Water Assessment Tool (BASINS-SWAT) and an ecosystem evaluation model – Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST). Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s AR4 climate change simulation results, we found that there is a slight relative increase in annual water yield, sediment yield, and dissolved phosphorus, but storm peak management does not change substantially by the 2050s. Spatial analysis shows that the locations of hot and cold spots remain relatively stable. It is also shown that there are high spatial and temporal uncertainties associated with climate change projections due to variations in precipitation projections toward the middle of the 21st century. The findings of our study provide useful information for water and land managers in identifying target areas for conservation to best sustain WES provision, use, and value under a range of climate change scenarios.
  • Presented at The Oregon Water Conference, May 24-25, 2011, Corvallis, OR.
  • KEYWORDS: spatial analysis, Tualatin River, Oregon, ecosystem services, Yamhill River, climate change
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