The Effect of Climate Change on Runoff and Water Quality in the Ipswich River Basin
Graduate student with a concentration in Water, Wetland and Watersheds
Timothy Randhir, Ph.D.
Climate change has resulted in changes in precipitation, temperature and sea level causing an increase in stormwater runoff. Increased runoff, in turn, results in flooding, eroded banks of streams, widening of stream channels, pollutant loading, and consequently impairment to aquatic life. The goal of this thesis is to quantify the impacts of future climate change on watersheds. My objectives are: to demonstrate that climate change does impact runoff processes, to investigate the water quality impacts of climate change, and to review best management practices specific to the investigated watershed to improve quality and quantity of water. These objectives will be addressed by examining areas encompassing the Ipswich watershed, the Neponset watershed, as well as the Charles River watershed. Most of the data for this project is accessible through BASINS (Better Assessment Science Integrating point and Nonpoint Sources), which is a multipurpose environmental analysis system, designed to perform watershed and water quality-based studies. Throughout the study area there are multiple gauging stations that automatically monitor rivers and other bodies of water, which contain instruments that collect information such as water height, discharge, water chemistry and water temperature. I will use the Hydrological Simulation Program (HSPF) to simulate runoff flow rate, sediment load, and nutrient concentrations, and a time series of water quantity at several points in this watershed. Using this model, a 150-year prediction (50 years before and 100 years after) of the watershed will be developed using factors, such as future climate change scenarios from IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and use current land use as if there were no change in the future, and to investigate various scenarios. Best management practices (BMP) will also be researched, specifically for this watershed area. I expect that where the best management practices are implemented and where there is minimal climate change, there will be less impact on water quality and quantity.
Updated: May 21, 2013