Estimating Impacts of Future Rainfall Change on Stream Flow and Sediment Load in Lower Yazoo River Watershed Using BASINS-HSPF-CAT Modeling System

Author(s): Ouyang, Y.; Feng, G.; Moran, M.

Climate change over the past several decades has resulted in shifting rainfall pattern and modifying rainfall intensity, which has, in turn, exacerbated stream flow and sediment load and imposed uncertainties to these processes. This study projected impacts of potential future rainfall variations on stream flow and sediment load from Lower Yazoo River Watershed (LYRW) in Mississippi using the BASINS (Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources)-HSPF (Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN)-CAT (Climate Assessment Tool) modeling system. The HSPF model was calibrated and validated with existing measured data prior to its applications. Several simulation scenarios were then performed to investigate impacts of different rainfall rates and storm intensities on stream discharge and sediment load from the LYRW outlet. Simulations showed that an increase in rainfall rate and intensity have resulted in dramatically increases in stream discharge and sediment load for the simulation conditions used in this study. A potential future wet climate has much greater impacts on hydrological processes and sediment load than those of a potential future dry climate at the LYRW. The coupled CAT-HSPF model is a useful tool to modify historical rainfall data to project future rainfall impacts on watershed hydrological processes due to climate change.

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