Will wetlands restoration plans today still be effective tomorrow? Evaluation of performance of potential wetlands for peak flow reduction in future climate scenarios in the Eagle Creek Watershed, IN Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x920g150k

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  • Global climate change is expected to exaggerate the severity of floods and droughts and increase the frequency of extreme streamflow events in the Midwestern United States. Managing these projected impacts poses a major challenge for water resources, conservation, and land use management. Wetlands have been considered as a conservation strategy and work to increase the capacity of watersheds by storing runoff upstream. The implementation of wetlands, especially in tile-drained agricultural watersheds, can reduce peak flows and help mitigate the anticipated impacts of climate change. The goal of this study was to evaluate the long-term performance of wetlands to reduce peak flows in future climate scenarios in the Eagle Creek Watershed in Indiana, as well as to establish a methodology to incorporate climate change into hydrological models to conduct better long-term land management studies and decisions. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was forced with bias corrected climate projections from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) to evaluate the impacts of climate change on watershed hydrology and the ability of wetlands to reduce peak flows. Long-term monthly streamflow results predicted a slight increase in streamflow in the winter and a slight decrease in the summer from the past (1971-2000) to future (2041-2070) time periods. About half of the climate realizations produced an increase in the Q05 (5% exceedance flow) value and half a decrease, but all predictions agreed that high flow events will increase in frequency in the winter and decrease in the spring and summer. No-flow events, although found to be over-predicted by the hydrological model, showed an increase from the past to the future for all climate realizations. Results from the wetland analysis showed that if all potential wetlands identified in a previous study are installed in the watershed, maximum peak flow reductions of around 20-50 m³/s for the past and future, as well as decreased frequency of extreme events, can be seen. Wetlands proved to be a robust solution for peak flow reduction, producing consistent reductions across all climate projections for both the past and future time periods.
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