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Title: River flow decline across the entire Arkansas River Basin in the 21st century
The Arkansas River and its tributaries provide critical water resources for agricultural irrigation, hydropower generation, and public water supply in the Arkansas River Basin (ARB). However, climate change and other environmental factors have imposed significant impacts on regional hydrological processes, resulting in widespread ecological and economic consequences. In this study, we projected future river flow patterns in the 21st century across the entire ARB under two climate and socio-economic change scenarios (i.e., SSP2-RCP45 and SSP5-RCP85) using the process-based Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model (DLEM). We designed “baseline simulations” (all driving factors were kept constant at the level circa 2000) and “environmental change simulations” (at least one driving factor changed over time during 2001–2099) to simulate the inter-annual variations of river flow and quantify the contributions of four driving factors (i.e., climate change, CO2 concentration, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, and land use change). Results showed that the Arkansas River flow in 2080–2099 would decrease by 12.1% in the SSP2-RCP45 and 27.9% in the SSP5-RCP85 compared to that during 2000–2019. River flow decline would occur from the beginning to the middle of this century in the SSP2-RCP45 and happen throughout the entire century in the SSP5-RCP85. All major rivers in the ARB would experience river flow decline with the largest percentage reduction in the western and southwestern ARB. Warming and drying climates would account for 77%–95% of the reduction. The rising CO2 concentration would exacerbate the decline through increasing foliage area and ecosystem evapotranspiration. This study provides insight into the spatial patterns of future changes in water availability in the ARB and the underlying mechanisms controlling these changes. This information is critical for designing watershed-specific management strategies to maintain regional water resource sustainability and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate changes on water availability.  more » « less
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Journal of Hydrology
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National Science Foundation
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