Precipitation extremes and the impacts of climate change on stormwater infrastructure in Washington State

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From: Climatic Change(Vol. 102, Issue 1-2)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 372 words

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Byline: Eric A. Rosenberg (1), Patrick W. Keys (1), Derek B. Booth (1,2), David Hartley (3), Jeff Burkey (4), Anne C. Steinemann (1,5), Dennis P. Lettenmaier (1) Abstract: The design of stormwater infrastructure is based on an underlying assumption that the probability distribution of precipitation extremes is statistically stationary. This assumption is called into question by climate change, resulting in uncertainty about the future performance of systems constructed under this paradigm. We therefore examined both historical precipitation records and simulations of future rainfall to evaluate past and prospective changes in the probability distributions of precipitation extremes across Washington State. Our historical analyses were based on hourly precipitation records for the time period 1949--2007 from weather stations in and near the state's three major metropolitan areas: the Puget Sound region, Vancouver (WA), and Spokane. Changes in future precipitation were evaluated using two runs of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) regional climate model (RCM) for the time periods 1970--2000 and 2020--2050, dynamically downscaled from the ECHAM5 and CCSM3 global climate models. Bias-corrected and statistically downscaled hourly precipitation sequences were then used as input to the HSPF hydrologic model to simulate streamflow in two urban watersheds in central Puget Sound. Few statistically significant changes were observed in the historical records, with the possible exception of the Puget Sound region. Although RCM simulations generally predict increases in extreme rainfall magnitudes, the range of these projections is too large at present to provide a basis for engineering design, and can only be narrowed through consideration of a larger sample of simulated climate data. Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that drainage infrastructure designed using mid-20th century rainfall records may be subject to a future rainfall regime that differs from current design standards. Author Affiliation: (1) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Box 352700, Seattle, WA, 98195--2700, USA (2) Stillwater Sciences, P.O. Box 904, Santa Barbara, CA, 93102, USA (3) Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, 16300 Christensen Road, Suite 350, Seattle, WA, 98188-3422, USA (4) King County Water and Land Resources Division, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA, 98104, USA (5) Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, Box 353055, Seattle, WA, 98195-3055, USA Article History: Registration Date: 24/03/2010 Received Date: 04/06/2009 Accepted Date: 23/03/2010 Online Date: 22/04/2010

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A237336809