Weather to Rivers

Brazil Flooding Event

Weather to Rivers - How does water move from rainfall through the landscape to rivers?

     Landuse changes impact how water is distributed across the landscape. Temperature and precipitation changes are expected to bring fundamental changes to the hydrological cycle in Brazil, as predicted by Global Climate Models (GCMs).  Water resources managers are tasked with planning for uncertainties associated with changing landuse and climate. However, the sensitivity of regional and local streamflow in Espírito Santo to these changes is still not well quantified, making it difficult for water managers to make long-term decisions. The hurdle of scant information and ambiguities often makes it difficult for water managers to convey the necessary long-term solutions to decision makers and stakeholders.

     The problem is fundamentally one of being able to describe how water moves across the landscape, as the complete hydrological cycle. That is,

How is “weather” (rainfall, heat) translated to soil moisture, ET, and ultimately runoff and discharge across the landscape of Espírito Santo, at different time and space scales? 

     In this section, the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle in Espírito Santo (and the Rio Doce in Minas Gerais) to changes in temperature and precipitation is examined using the VIC land surface hydrology model, as developed in the previous sections.  The issues to be addressed include:

  • Rainfall to Runoff - Could the models calculate other results or products, for example soil moisture and evapotranspiration, as well as fluvial discharge?
  • Scenarios of the Future - Is it possible to identify (construct future scenarios of) the impacts of climate change on agricultural activities and the management of water in urban areas? If the hydrologic modeling is based on predictions of regional climate models, could the potential conditions of a near-term future be anticipated? Could early warning signals be adopted?
  • Operational Models - If the model is maintained in an operational mode, could the actual conditions of rainfall intensity and soil moisture be monitored, and could extreme events (floods or droughts) be anticipated via the development of a preventive alert system?

Peer-reviewed publications resulting from this study:

Tan, A., Richey, J.E., Sossai, M.M (in submission, 2015): Hydrologic Sensitivity of Streamflow Runnof to Climate Change in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Water Resources Research