Across the Southern Great Plains, increasing temperatures are expected to alter the hydrological functioning of the region by contributing to severe droughts, more intense rainfall events, and more severe flooding episodes. These changes could adversely affect human and ecological communities. The ability to better predict future changes in precipitation and the response of hydrologic systems in the region could help mitigate their negative impacts. Yet while today’s global climate models provide large-scale projections of future temperature and precipitation patterns that can be broadly useful for large-scale water resource planning, they are often not appropriate for use at a smaller, more local scale.
This research aimed to develop high-resolution climate projections for the Southern Great Plains that are better suited to informing water management at the local scale, with a focus on the Red River Valley. High resolution weather models can be used to downscale global climate model forecasts to provide more accurate local projections of future climate conditions for the Valley. These models are meant to be run multiple times, creating a spread of model outcomes that will provide insight into the range of possible climate futures for the region and reveal any uncertainties managers should be aware of when using the projections. The very high-resolution projections are expected to be used in the context of long-term hydrological modeling and management to inform cost-effective flood control planning, water supply management, hydroelectric power generation, and ecosystem conservation.