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Title: Adaptation of Multiobjective Reservoir Operations to Snowpack Decline in the Western United States
Long-term snowpack decline is among the best-understood impacts of climate change on water resources systems. This trend has been observed for decades and is projected to continue even in climate projections in which total runoff volumes do not change significantly. For basins in which snowpack has historically provided intra-annual water storage, snowpack decline creates several issues that may require adaptation to infrastructure, operations, or both. This study develops an approach to analyze vulnerabilities and adaptations specifically focused on the challenge of snowpack decline, using the northern California reservoir system as a case study. We first introduce an open-source daily time-step simulation model of this system, which is validated against historical observations of operations. Multiobjective vulnerabilities to snowpack decline are then examined using a set of downscaled climate scenarios to capture the physically based effects of rising temperatures. A statistical analysis shows that the primary impacts include water supply shortage and lower reservoir storage resulting from the seasonal shift in runoff timing. These challenges identified from the vulnerability assessment inform proposed adaptations to operations to maintain multiobjective performance across the ensemble of plausible future scenarios, which include other uncertain hydrologic changes. To adapt seasonal reservoir management without the cost of additional infrastructure, we specifically propose and test adaptations that parameterize the structure more » of existing operating policies: a dynamic flood control rule curve and revised snowpack-to-streamflow forecasting methods to improve seasonal runoff predictability given declining snowpack. These adaptations are shown to mitigate the majority of vulnerabilities caused by snowpack decline across the scenario ensemble, with remaining opportunities for improvement using formal policy search and dynamic adaptation techniques. The coupled approach to vulnerability assessment and adaptation is generalizable to other snowmelt-dominated water resources systems facing the loss of seasonal storage due to rising temperatures. « less
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Journal of water resources planning and management
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National Science Foundation
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