California's interconnected water system is one of the most advanced water management systems in the world, and understanding of long-term trends in atmospheric and hydrologic behavior has increasingly being seen as vital to its future well-being. Knowledge of such trends is hampered by the lack of long-period observation data and the uncertainty surrounding future projections of atmospheric models. This study examines historical precipitation trends over the Shasta Dam watershed (SDW), which lies upstream of one of the most important components of California's water system, Shasta Dam, using a dynamical downscaling methodology that can produce atmospheric data at fine time-space scales. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is employed to reconstruct 159years of long-term hourly precipitation data at 3km spatial resolution over SDW using the 20th Century Reanalysis Version 2c dataset. Trend analysis on this data indicates a significant increase in total precipitation as well as a growing intensity of extreme events such as 1, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72-hour storms over the period of 1851 to 2010. The turning point of the increasing trend and no significant trend periods is found to be 1940 for annual precipitation and the period of 1950 to 1960 for extreme precipitation using the sequential Mann-Kendall test. Based on these analysis, we find the trends at the regional scale do not necessarily apply to the watershed-scale. The sharp increase in the variability of annual precipitation since 1970s is also detected, which implies an increase in the occurrence of extreme wet and dry conditions. These results inform long-term planning decisions regarding the future of Shasta Dam and California's water system.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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