Climate change impacts on water availability in Alaska

The Wilderness Society has used SNAP data and assistance to assess potential future impacts on water availability statewide. These data provide high-resolution historical estimates and projections of potential evapotranspiration (PET) for Alaska, filling a need to provide high-resolution PET inputs for hydrological and ecological models that require them.

In connection with precipitation data, historical PET data sets may be particularly helpful in interpreting observed ecological and hydrological trends at regional and local scales. Additionally, by demonstrating the variety of potential future conditions that can be derived using a small five-member ensemble of GCMs, this study highlights the critical importance of including a range of scenarios in adaptation planning.

The PET projections may identify areas where there is potential for marked changes or where projections diverge, and where mechanistic studies may help us better understand the impact of climate change on the local water balance and the many ecological processes it influences.

Areas of expertise: 
Scenario planning
Data visualization and analysis
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