Characterizing Flow and Suspended Sediment Trends in the Sacramento River Basin, CA Using Hydrologic Simulation Program – FORTRAN (HSPF)
Abstract:A watershed model of the Sacramento River Basin, CA was developed to simulate streamflow and suspended sediment transport to the San Francisco Bay Delta (SFBD) for fifty years (1958-2008) using the Hydrological Simulation Program – FORTRAN (HSPF). To compensate for the large model domain and sparse data, rigorous meteorological development and characterization of hydraulic geometry were employed to spatially distribute climate and hydrologic processes in unmeasured locations. Parameterization techniques sought to include known spatial information for tributaries such as soil information and slope, and then parameters were scaled up or down during calibration to retain the spatial characteristics of the land surface in un-gaged areas. Accuracy was assessed by comparing model calibration to measured streamflow. Calibration and validation of the Sacramento River ranged from “good” to “very good” performance based upon a “goodness-of-fit” statistical guideline. Model calibration to measured sediment loads were underestimated on average by 39% for the Sacramento River, and model calibration to suspended sediment concentrations were underestimated on average by 22% for the Sacramento River.
Sediment loads showed a slight decreasing trend from 1958-2008 and was significant (p < 0.0025) in the lower 50% of stream flows. Hypothetical climate change scenarios were developed using the Climate Assessment Tool (CAT). Several wet and dry scenarios coupled with temperature increases were imposed on the historical base conditions to evaluate sensitivity of streamflow and sediment on potential changes in climate. Wet scenarios showed an increase of 9.7 - 17.5% in streamflow, a 7.6 - 17.5% increase in runoff, and a 30 – 93% increase in sediment loads. The dry scenarios showed a roughly 5% decrease in flow and runoff, and a 16 – 18% decrease in sediment loads. The base hydrology was most sensitive to a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius and an increase in storm intensity and frequency. The complete calibrated HSPF model will use future climate scenarios to make projections of potential hydrologic and sediment trends to the SFBD from 2000-2100.