Climate Change Impacts on Water

  • Program Overview
  • References
  • More Information
  • Conferences

Freshwater resources are highly sensitive to variations in weather and climate. The changes in global climate that are occurring as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will affect patterns of freshwater availability and will alter the frequencies of floods and droughts.

Climate model simulations and other analyses suggest that total flows, probabilities of extreme high or low flow conditions, seasonal runoff regimes, groundwater–surface water interactions and water quality characteristics could all be significantly affected by climate change over the course of the coming decades.

Section1 Section2 Section3 Section4 Section5 Section6 Section7 Section8 Section9
To illustrate the potential effects of climate change on various water
regions in North America, Dr. Miller devised the map here.
Click on the region you wish to know more about. Map source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II
Third Assessment Report.

This suggests it is prudent to begin planning for changes that can be foreseen and to build resilience to deal effectively with the increased uncertainty arising from the potential, but as yet unpredictable impacts of climate change.

While it is virtually certain that there will be changes in the global quantity and distribution of precipitation and runoff, there are significant uncertainties regarding the specific nature of the local and regional impacts of climate change on hydrologic regimes.

Nevertheless, some types of changes can be foreseen with relatively high confidence. For example, a large and growing body of research suggests a high likelihood of the following changes. First, in watersheds where stream–flow currently depends on snowmelt, warmer temperatures will increase the fraction of precipitation falling as rain rather than as snow, causing the annual spring peak in runoff to occur earlier.

Depending on changes in the amount and seasonal distribution of precipitation, these watersheds may experience an increased likelihood of winter flooding and reduced late summer flows. Second, saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers is likely to become an increasing problem as a result of sea–level rise. And finally, for many watersheds, there will be an increased likelihood of warmer summer water temperatures with associated impacts on aquatic ecosystems and water quality.

Climate change should be considered in the context of all of the other stresses impinging on our water resources: it may not be the largest source of stress, but it can potentially make it more difficult to deal with other challenges like population growth, endangered species and water quality issues. Dr. Miller's research has focused on exploring options for building resilience to the possible impacts of climate change through enhanced institutional flexibility and consideration of climate–related risks in the planning process.

Region 1: Alaska, Yukon, and Coastal British Columbia

Regional Characteristics: Lightly settled/water–abundant region; potential ecological, hydropower, and flood impacts:

  • Increased spring flood risks (1,2)
  • Glacial retreat/disappearance in south, advance in north; impacts on flows, stream ecology (2,3,4)
  • Increased stress on salmon, other fish species (2,5)
  • Flooding of coastal wetlands (5)
  • Changes in estuary salinity/ecology (2)

References for Region 1:

1. Loukas and Quick. 1999
2. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. 1
3. Brugman et al. 1997
4. Hofmann et al. 1998
5. Bering Sea Impacts Study (BESIS)

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 2: Pacific Coast States (USA)

Regional Characteristics: Large and rapidly growing population; water abundance decreases north to south; intensive irrigated agriculture; massive water–control infrastructure; Heavy reliance on hydropower; endangered species issues; increasing competition for water:

  • More winter rainfall/less snowfall – earlier seasonal peak in runoff; increased fall/winter flooding, decreased summer water supply (6,7,8,9,10)
  • Possible increase in annual runoff in Sierra Nevada and Cascades (9,11,12)
  • Possible summer salinity increase in San Francisco Bay and Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta (6,13)
  • Changes in lake and stream ecology – warmwater species benefitting; damage to coldwater species (e.g., trout and salmon) (6,8,14)

References for Region 2:

6. Melack et al. 1997
7. Hamlet and Lettenmaier. 1999
8. Cohen et al. In Press, (2000)
9. Wilby. and Dettinger, In Press
10. Leung and Wigmosta. 1999
11. Wolock and McCabe. 1999
12. Felzer and Heard. 1999
13. Gleick and Chalecki. 1999
14. Thompson et al. 1998

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 3: Rocky Mountains (USA and Canada)

Regional Characteristics: Lightly populated in the north, rapid population growth in the south; irrigated agriculture, recreation, urban expansion increasingly competing for water; headwaters area for other regions:

Section3
  • Rise in snow line in winter–spring, possible increases in snowfall, earlier snowmelt, more frequent rain on snow – changes in seasonal streamflow, possible reductions in summer streamflow, reduced summer soil moisture (4,15,16,17,18)
  • Stream temperature changes affecting species composition; increased isolation of coldwater stream fish (19)

References for Region 3:

4. Hofmann et al. 1998
15. Fyfe and Flato. 1999
16. McCabe and Wolock. 1999
17. Leith and Whitfield. 1998
18. Williams et al. 1996
19. Hauer et al. 1997

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 4: Southwest

Regional Characteristics: Rapid population growth, dependence on limited groundwater and surface water supplies, water quality concerns in border region, endangered species concerns, vulnerability to flash flooding:

Section4
  • Possible changes in snowpacks and runoff (20)
  • Possible declines in groundwater recharge–reduced water supplies (21)
  • Increased water temperatures – further stress on aquatic species (22)
  • Increased frequency of intense precipitation events – increased risk of flash floods (23)

References for Region 4:

20. Wilby et al. In press (1999)
21. EPA, 1998a
22. Hurd et al. 1999
23. EPA, 1998b

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 5: Sub–Arctic and Arctic

Regional Characteristics: Sparse population (many dependent on natural systems), winter ice cover important feature of hydrological cycle:

Section5
  • Thinner ice cover, 1–to 3–month increase in ice-free season, increased extent of open water (24,25)
  • Increased lake–level variability, possible complete drying of some delta lakes (24,25)
  • Changes in aquatic ecology and species distribution as a result of warmer temperatures and longer growing season (25,26,27)

References for Region 5:

24. Marsh and Lesack. 1996
25. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. II
26. Rouse et al. 1997
27. MacDonald et al. 1996

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 6: Midwest USA and Canadian Prairies

Regional Characteristics: Agricultural heartland – mostly rainfed, with some areas relying heavily on irrigation:

Section6
  • Annual streamflow decreasing/increasing; possible large declines in summer streamflow (11,17,28,29,30,31,32)
  • Increasing likelihood of severe droughts (4,33)
  • Possible increasing aridity in semi–arid zones (34)
  • Increases or decreases in irrigation demand and water availability – uncertain impacts on farm sector income, groundwater levels, streamflows, water quality (29,35,36)

References for Region 6:

4. Hofmann et al. 1998
11. Wolock and McCabe. 1999
17. Leith and Whitfield. 1998
28. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. III
29. Strzepek et al. 1999
30. Clair et al. 1998
31. Yulianti and Burn. 1998
32. Lettenmaier et al. 1999
33. Woodhouse and Overpeck. 1998
34. Evans and Prepas. 1996
35. Eheart et al. 1999
36. Hurd et al. 1998

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 7: Great Lakes

Regional Characteristics: Heavily populated and industrialized region, variations in lake levels/flows now affect hydropower, shipping, shoreline structures:

Section7
  • Possible precipitation increases coupled with reduced runoff and lake–level declines (37,38)
  • Reduced hydropower production; reduced channel depths for shipping (4,38)
  • Decreases in lake ice extent – some years without ice cover (39)
  • Changes in phytoplankton/zooplankton biomass, northward migration of fish species, possible extirpations of coldwater species (39)

References for Region 7:

4. Hofmann et al. 1998
37. Mortsch and Quinn. 1996
38. Chao. 1999
39. Magnuson et al. 1997

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 8: Northeast USA and Eastern Canada

Regional Characteristics: Large, mostly urban population – generally adequate water supplies, large number of small dams, but limited total resevoir capacity; heavily populated floodplains:

Section8
  • Decreased snow cover amount and duration (40)
  • Possible large reductions in streamflow (40)
  • Accelerated coastal erosion, saline intrusion into coastal aquifers (4,41,42)
  • Changes in magnitude, timing of ice freeze–up/break–up, with impacts on spring flooding (41,43)
  • Possible elimination of bog ecosystems (40)
  • Shifts in fish species distributions, migration patterns (41)

References for Region 8:

4. Hofmann et al. 1998
40. Moore et al. 1997
41. Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. VI
42. U.S. National Assessment. 1999
43. Hare et al. 1997

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List

Region 9: Southeast, Gulf, and Mid–Alantic USA

Regional Characteristics: Increasing population – especially in coastal areas, water quality/non–point source pollution problems, stress on aquatic ecosystems:

Section9
  • Heavily populated coastal floodplains at risk to flooding from extreme precipitation events, hurricanes (22,32)
  • Possible lower base flows, larger peak flows, longer droughts (44)
  • Possible precipitation increase – possible increases or decreases in runoff/river discharge, increased flow variability (32,44,45,46)
  • Major expansion of northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone possible – other impacts on coastal systems related to changes in precipitation/non–point source pollution loading (45,47)
  • Changes in estuary systems and wetland extent, biotic processes, species distribution (44,48)

22. Hurd et al. 1999
32. Lettenmaier et al. 1999
44. Mulholland et al. 1997
45. Justic, D. et al. 1996
46. Arnell, N. W. 1999
47. Cruise et al. 1999
48. Porter et al. 1996

Back To Map | Alphabetical Reference List
[A–C] [D–H] [J–M] [N–Z]

Arnell, N. W., 1999: Climate change and global water resources. Global Environmental Change, 9, S31–S49.

Bering Sea Impacts Study (BESIS): Summary of the main implications of global change in the region

Brugman, P. Raistrick and A. Pietroniro, 1997: Glacier related impacts of doubling carbon dioxide concentrations on British Columbia and Yukon. In Taylor, E. and B. Taylor (eds.), Responding to Global Climate Change in British Columbia and Yukon. Volume I of the Canada Country Study: Climate Impacts and Adaptation. Environment Canada, Vancouver, and British Columbia Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks, Victoria, 6-1–6-9.

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. 1: Responding to Global Climate Change in the British Columbia and Yukon Region. Environment Canada

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. II: Responding to Global Climate Change in the Arctic. Environment Canada

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. III: Responding to Global Climate Change in the Prairies. Environment Canada

Canada Country Study (CCS). 1997. Vol. VI: Ontario region executive summary, Environment Canada

Chao, P. 1999: Great Lakes water resources: Climate change impact analysis with transient GCM scenarios. JAWRA, 35(6), 1499–1508.

Clair, T. A., J. Ehrman and K. Higuchi. 1998: Changes to the runoff of Canadian ecozones under a doubled CO2 atmosphere. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 55, 2464–2477.

Cruise, J. F., A. S. Limaye and N. Al–Abed. 1999: Assessment of impacts of climate change on water quality in the Southeastern United States. JAWRA, 35(6), 1539–1550.

[A–C] [D–H] [J–M] [N–Z]

Eheart, J. W., A. J. Wildermuth and E. E. Herricks. 1999: The effects of climate change and irrigation on criterion low streamflows used for determining total maximum daily loads. JAWRA, 35(6), 1365–1372.

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1998a: Climate Change and Arizona. Publication EPA 236–F–98–007c

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1998b: Climate Change and New Mexico. Publication EPA 236–F–98–007p

Evans, J.C., and E.E. Prepas. 1996: Potential effects of climate change on ion chemistry and phytoplankton communities in prairie saline lakes Limnology and Oceanography. 41(5), 1063–1076.

Felzer, B. and P. Heard. 1999: Precipitation Differences Amongst GCMs Used for the U.S. National Assessment. JAWRA, 35(6), 1327–1340.

Fyfe, J.C. and G.M. Flato. 1999: Enhanced climate change and its detection over the Rocky Mountains. Journal of Climate, 12(1), 230–243.

Gleick, P. H. and E. L. Chalecki. 1999: The impacts of climatic changes for water resources of the Colorado and Sacramento–San Joaquin river basins. JAWRA, 35(6), 1429–1442.

Hamlet, A. F. and D. P. Lettenmaier. 1999: Effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources in the Columbia River Basin. JAWRA, 35(6), 1597–1624.

Hare, F. K., R.B.B. Dickinson, and S. Ismail. 1997: Climatic Variation over the Saint John Basin: An Examination of Regional Behavior. Climate Change Digest, CCD, 97–02. Atmospheric Environment Service, Toronto

Hauer, F.R., J.S. Baron, D.H. Campbell, K.D. Fausch, S.W. Hostetler, G.H. Leavesley, P.R. Leavitt, D.M. McKnight and J.A. Stanford. 1997: Assessment of climate change and freshwater ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, USA and Canada. Hydrological Processes, 11, 903–924.

Hofmann, N., L. and others. 1998. Climate Change and Variability: Impacts on Canadian Water. Canada Country Study (CCS), Chapter 1, Vol. VIII, 1-120

Hofmann, N., L. and others. 1998: Climate Change and Variability: Impacts on Canadian Water. Canada Country Study (CCS), Chapter 1, Vol. VIII, 1–120.

Hurd, B.H., J. M. Callaway, J.B. Smith and P. Kirshen, 1998: "Economic Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Water Resources," in R. Mendelsohn and J.E. Neumann (eds.) The Economic Impacts of Climate Change on the U.S. Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Hurd, B., N. Leary, R. Jones and J. Smith. 1999: Relative regional vulnerability of water resources to climate change. JAWRA, 35(6), 1399–1410.

[A–C] [D–H] [J–M] [N–Z]

Justic, D., N.N. Rabalais and R.E. Turner. 1996: Effects of climate change on hypoxia in coastal waters: A doubled CO2 scenario for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 992–1003.

Leith, R. M. M. and P. H. Whitfield. 1998: Evidence of climate change effects on the hydrology of streams in south–central B.C. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 23(3), 219–230.

Lettenmaier, D. P. and others. 1999: Water resources implications of global warming: a U.S. regional perspective. Climatic Change, 43(3), 537–579.

Leung, L. R. and M. S. Wigmosta. 1999: Potential climate change impacts on mountain watersheds in the Pacific Northwest. JAWRA, 35(6), 1463–1472.

Loukas, A. and M. C. Quick. 1999: The effect of climate change on floods in British Columbia. Nordic Hydrology, 30, 231–256.

MacDonald, M.E., A.E. Hershey and M.C. Miller. 1996: Global warming impacts on lake trout in arctic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 1102–1108.

Magnuson, J.J., K.E. Webster, R.A. Assel, C.J. Browser, P.J. Dillon, J.G.Eaton, H.E. Evans, E.J. Fee, R.I. Hall, L.R. Mortsch, D.W. Schindler and F.H. Quinn. 1997: Potential effects of climate changes on aquatic systems: Laurentian Great Lakes and Precambrian Shield region. Hydrological Processes, 11(5), 825–871.

Marsh, P. and L.F.W. Lesack. 1996: The hydrologic response of perched lakes in the Mackenzie delta: potential responses to climate change. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 849–856.

McCabe, G.J. and D. M. Wolock. 1999: General–Circulation–Model Simulations of Future Snowpack in the Western United States. JAWRA, 35(6), 1473–1484.

Melack, J.M.. J. Dozier, C.R. Goldman, D. Greenland, A.M. Milner and R.J. Naiman. 1997: Effects of climate change on inland waters of the Pacific coastal mountains and western Great basin of North America. Hydrological Processes, 11, 971–992.

Moore, M.V., M.L. Pace, J.R. Mather, P.S.Murdoch, R.W.Howarth, C.L. Folt, C.Y. Chen, H.F. Hemond, PA. Flebbe and C.T. Driscoll. 1997: Potential effects of climate change on freshwater ecosystems of the New England/Mid–Atlantic region. Hydrological Processes, 11, 925–947.

Mortsch, L.D. and F.H. Quinn, 1996: Climate change scenarios for Great Lakes Basin ecosystems studies. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 903–911.

Mulholland, P.J., G.R.Best, C.C. Coutant, G.M. Hornberger, J.L. Meyer, P.J. Robinson, J. R. Stenberg, R.E. Turner, F. Vera-Herrera, and R.G. Wetzel. 1997: Effects of climate change on freshwater ecosystems of the southeastern United States and the gulf coast of Mexico. Hydrological Processes, 11, 949–970.

[A–C] [D–H] [J–M] [N–Z]

Porter, K.G., P.A. Saunders, K.A. Haberyan, A.E. Macubbin, T.R. Jacobsen and R.E. Hodson. 1996: Annual cycle of autotrophic and heterotrophic production in a small, monomictic Piedmont lake (Lake Oglethorpe): Analog for the effects of climatic warming on dimictic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 1041–1051.

Rouse, W.R., M.S.V. Douglas, R.E. Hecky, A.E. Hershey, G.W. Kling, L. Lesack, P. Marsh, M. McDonald, B.J. Nicholson, N.T. Roulet and J.P. Smol, 1997: Effects of climate change on the freshwaters of arctic and subarctic North America. Hydrological Processes, 11, 873–902.

Strzepek, K.M. and others. 1999: New methods of modeling water availability for agriculture under climate change. JAWRA, 35(6), 1639–1656.

Thompson, R. S., S. W. Hostetler, P. J. Bartlein and K. H. Anderson. 1998: A strategy for assessing potential future change in climate, hydrology, and vegetation in the western United States. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1153, Washington, D.C.

U.S. National Assessment. 1999. Draft Overview (reference to be completed later)

Wilby, R.L. and M.D. Dettinger, In Press: Streamflow changes in the Sierra Nevada, California, simulated using a statistically downscaled General Circulation Model scenario of climate change. In Linking Climate Change to Land Surface Change, S. McLaren and D. Kniveton (eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers (Netherlands).

Wilby, R.L., L.E. Hay and G.H. Leavesley. In press (1999): A comparison of downscaled and raw GCM output: implications for climate change scenarios in the San Juan River basin, Colorado. Journal of Hydrology.

Williams, M.W., M. Losleben, N. Caine and D. Greenland. 1996: Changes in climate and hydrochemical responses in a high–elevation catchment in the Rocky Mountains, USA. Limnology and Oceanography, 41(5), 939–946.

Wolock, D. M. and G. J. McCabe. 1999: Estimates of Runoff Using Water–Balance and Atmospheric General Circulation Models. JAWRA, 35(6), 1341–1350.

Woodhouse, C.A., and J.T. Overpeck. 1998: 2000 years of drought variability in the central United States. American Meteorological Society Bulletin, 79, 2693–2714.

Yulianti, J. S. and D. H. Burn. 1998: Investigating links between climatic warming and low streamflow in the Prairies region of Canada. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 23(1), 45–60.

More Information

Water Cycle Study Group (K. Miller member), A Plan for a New Science Initiative on the Global Water Cycle, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, D.C., 2001.

This report proposes a water cycle research agenda for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The goal of the proposed Integrated Water Cycle Science Plan is to improve understanding of:

  1. The causes of water cycle variation on global and regional scales including human influences
  2. The predictability of those variations
  3. Links between water, carbon nitrogen, and other nutrient cycles in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems

S.J. Cohen and K.A. Miller (Convening Lead Authors), "North America," Ch.15, pp.733–800 in Climate Change 2001: Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II Third Assessment Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

This is one of 19 chapters in the Third Assessment Report of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

  1. To assess available scientific and socioeconomic information on climate change and its impacts and on the options for mitigating climate change and for adapting to it
  2. To provide advice, on request, to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Working Group II focuses on the environmental, social, and economic consequences of climate change and potential adaptation responses

In addition to serving as a convening lead author, Kathleen Miller wrote much of the material for the water resources and fisheries sections of this chapter. Dr. Miller's interactive map on this website summarizes the report's findings on the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in North America.

Dennis Ojima, Luis Garcia, E. Elgaali, Kathleen Miller, Timothy Kittel and Jill Lackett, "Potential Climate Change Impact on Water Resources in the Great Plains", Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 35(6): 1443–1454, 1999.

This paper provides an assessment of the impacts of climate and potential climate change on water resources, including aquatic ecosystems, agricultural demands and water management in the U.S. Great Plains. Results are based on the climate scenarios used for the U.S. National Assessment and stakeholder input gathered during the regional assessment process.

Kathleen A. Miller, Climate Variability, Climate Change and Western Water, Report to the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, NTIS, Springfield, VA, 1997.

This is a comprehensive report on the science and policy aspects of the impacts of climate on water resources in the western United States. The federal Western Water Policy Review Commission was created by Congress to review all aspects of federal involvement in the management of western water resources. The Commission ordered this study as an essential element in the fact–finding part of its mission. The report covers both the science and policy aspects of this issue. It provides an overview of the current climate of the west, potential climate changes and sources of uncertainty, placing the impacts of global climate change in the context of existing climatic variability. Policy implications are considered within the framework of the prior appropriation system and existing federal and state laws and agency mandates.

Climate Change and Water Resources Conference

In recent years there has been growing evidence that the earth's climate will become warmer in 21st century, which raises the essential question: What impacts will global warming have on the environment and human activities? Warming will cause hydrologic changes that will affect freshwater resources. These are among the most significant potential impacts of climate change. As the climate warms, there will be changes in the nature of global precipitation, evaporation, snowpack, streamflow and other factors that will affect freshwater supply and quality. Climate change will present challenges to water utilities, and planning now could prevent freshwater crises in upcoming years.

For water utilities to plan appropriately for the effect of global warming on water resources, they need information on the scientific basis for climate change and the implications for hydrology. To facilitate communication between specialists in climatic change and professionals in water utilities, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Awwa Research Foundation will be hosting a conference on the subject of climate change and the impact on water resources. The conference will be held on March 15th and 16th, 2004 at the National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

For More Information

Water Cycle Study Group (K. Miller member), A Plan for a New Science Initiative on the Global Water Cycle, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, D.C., 2001.

This report proposes a water cycle research agenda for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The goal of the proposed Integrated Water Cycle Science Plan is to improve understanding of: 1) the causes of water cycle variation on global and regional scales including human influences; 2) the predictability of those variations; and 3) links between water, carbon nitrogen, and other nutrient cycles in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.

S.J. Cohen and K.A. Miller (Convening Lead Authors), "North America," Ch.15, pp.733–800 in Climate Change 2001: Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II Third Assessment Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

This is one of 19 chapters in the Third Assessment Report of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): 1) to assess available scientific and socioeconomic information on climate change and its impacts and on the options for mitigating climate change and for adapting to it; and 2) to provide advice, on request, to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Working Group II focuses on the environmental, social, and economic consequences of climate change and potential adaptation responses.

In addition to serving as a convening lead author, Kathleen Miller wrote much of the material for the water resources and fisheries sections of this chapter. Dr. Miller's interactive map on this website summarizes the report's findings on the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in North America

Dennis Ojima, Luis Garcia, E. Elgaali, Kathleen Miller, Timothy Kittel and Jill Lackett. 1999: Potential Climate Change Impact on Water Resources in the Great Plains. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 35(6), 1443–1454.

This paper provides an assessment of the impacts of climate and potential climate change on water resources, including aquatic ecosystems, agricultural demands and water management in the U.S. Great Plains. Results are based on the climate scenarios used for the U.S. National Assessment and stakeholder input gathered during the regional assessment process.

Kathleen A. Miller, Climate Variability, Climate Change and Western Water, Report to the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission, NTIS, Springfield, VA, 1997.

This is a comprehensive report on the science and policy aspects of the impacts of climate on water resources in the western United States. The federal Western Water Policy Review Commission was created by Congress to review all aspects of federal involvement in the management of western water resources. The Commission ordered this study as an essential element in the fact–finding part of its mission. The report covers both the science and policy aspects of this issue. It provides an overview of the current climate of the west, potential climate changes and sources of uncertainty, placing the impacts of global climate change in the context of existing climatic variability. Policy implications are considered within the framework of the prior appropriation system and existing federal and state laws and agency mandates.