Design and Development of a Prototype Tool for Integrated Climate Downscaling and Streamflow Prediction using Open Source GIS Software

Project ID: 9449
Principal Investigator: Greg Gault
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Priority Area Assignments: 2013 (Climate Change and Variability Research), 2014 (Climate Change and Variability Research)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013 and 2014
Keywords: open source gis, climate change, gcm downscaling

Research Question

How can the development of interactive, open source GIS-based software and geospatial analytical tools improve Reclamation's use of its current and future investments in Global Climate Model (GCM) data downscaling and regional hydrologic model simulations at geographic scales appropriate for assessing climate change impacts to water operations and ecological resources?

Need and Benefit

Reclamation, along with other resource management agencies, recognizes the critical importance of addressing potential impacts of climate change to the operation and development of its water resources management infrastructure. The joint Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers publication, "Addressing Climate Change in Long-Term Water Resources Planning and Management: User Needs for Improving Tools and Information," summarizes and categorizes a number of tools and information needs (i.e., gaps). The final gap category is "Communicating Results and Uncertainties to Decisionmakers;" addressing this gap is the fundamental driver of this proposal.

More specifically, these proposed software tools may be well-suited to support the West-Wide Climate Risk Assessment (WWCRA) Team's efforts to continue to respond to the SECURE Water Act enacted in 2009. In alignment with that Act, Reclamation is conducting a range of vulnerability and assessment studies and implementing results across the West to address the potential impacts of climate change on reservoir operations, ecological resources, hydropower, and water delivery.

As part of a WWCRA effort, future streamflow was routed to almost 200 sites across the West at key major river locations or at gauged USGS Hydroclimate Data Network Sites, which are generally located in the headwaters of rivers. These pre-packaged flow data are made available through the Streamflow Projections for the Western United States web map ( This proposal's geospatial software tools are intended to serve additional geographic scales and areas of interest which will more broadly support Reclamation's mission, for example in habitat restoration and improvements to water quality. It will provide the ability to query streamflow projections to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change at specific sites of interest in addition to the key locations at which streamflow has already been routed.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

(1) Reclamation user requirements report and software functional specification
(2) A suite of software tools (GIS application framework and plug-ins)
(3) Open source software management website
(4) Source code and software documentation

Additionally we expect to generate a peer reviewed technical manuscript and graduate student thesis as a secondary research product.

All research products will be made available for public download and use from the internet under common open source software licenses.

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Last Updated: 11/15/16