New Tools and Data to Understand and Adapt to Hydroclimatic Variability and Change in Alaska and Hawaii

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
J R Arnold, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Climate Preparedness and Resilience Programs, Seattle, WA, United States
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Climate Preparedness and Resilience Program has long been a member of the team developing and maintaining the archive of downscaled climatologies and hydrologies for historical and future conditions distributed from the Green Data Oasis site at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. These products have been created and served out publically with the hope of enhancing decision-making capabilities and potentially improving the use of climate change information in water-resource planning and management.

To date, all this work – used extensively to compute climate change threats and water-resource vulnerabilities – has been done for the contiguous U.S. (CONUS); these and most other tools and datasets produced by others have not been primarily concerned with the unique hydrometeorological problems in Alaska and Hawaii. However, the different hydroclimatic regions of both those states are especially sensitive to specific climate change threats made more difficult to characterize by the intense spatial climatic gradients tracked with sparse station networks there and the dominance of distinctive hydrologic processes relatively rare in the CONUS. Examples of those processes include glaciers and permafrost in Alaska; and volcanic subsurface hydrogeology, intense tropical rainfall, and high rates of evapotranspiration in Hawaii, to name but a few. To address these knowledge and capability gaps for these regions outside the CONUS, USACE and its partners are now developing new tools and datasets of current and projected future climatologies and hydrologies to provide enhanced streamflow simulations and support both climate risk assessments and climate adaptation strategies in Alaska and Hawaii.

This presentation will focus on our early stage analysis of historical hydroclimate variability in Alaska and Hawaii using the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model simulations and probabilistic interpolation of local gauge data in support of future new streamflow modeling. We will conclude with discussion of the ongoing and future research planned to better characterize and understand the sensitivity of the terrestrial component of the water cycle in Hawaii and Alaska to climate variability and change, and how this work can prepare for work in other similarly unique regions.