Streamflow Discharge Projections Considering Climate Change and Application

Project No: 124331

Target Completion Date: April 30, 2025 Environment, Planning, and Economics

About the project:

Bridges and large culverts are designed using historical streamflow data. However, these data do not account for the influence of expected increased precipitation (due to climate change) on streamflow. At the same time, other climate change impacts such as evapotranspiration and watershed characteristics such as percent urban may also affect streamflow. This project will investigate if increased precipitation is accompanied by higher streamflow.  This project will also investigate the relationship between climate, physiographic characteristics, and streamflow. First, historical streamflow trend data will be analyzed. Streamflow trend data will be classified by type and magnitude of trend. The Virginia streamflow trend data will be mapped and the percent of stream gages in each trend type will be calculated. Other important characteristics such as median watershed area will be calculated for each trend type. Then, Virginia watersheds will be classified based on similar physiographic and climate characteristics. Watershed classes will be paired with streamflow trend maps to elicit relationships between streamflow, climate, and physiographic characteristics. The end product of this work is a map that will highlight regions of Virginia that may be particularly vulnerable to climate change or land development and thus necessitate future research. This research will improve VDOT’s understanding of historical streamflow trends, which in turn will improve VDOT’s ability to predict future trends in streamflow. The use of such trends by VDOT to inform design guidance will improve the resiliency of Virginia’s infrastructure. 

Project Team

Principal Investigators

Last updated: October 29, 2023

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