Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Int J Agric & Biol Eng, 2012; 5(1): 13-34. DOI: 10.3965/j.ijabe.20120501.003


Improvements in the management of water, sediment, and nutrients under future climatic conditions are needed to ensure increased crop and livestock production to meet greater global needs and the future availability of water for competing demands and protection against adverse water quality impairments. This study determined the impacts of future climate change scenarios on streamflow, water quality, and best management practices (BMPs) for two watersheds in Nebraska, USA. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was employed to simulate streamflow, sediment, total nitrogen (N) and total phosphorus (P) from the Shell Creek Watershed near Columbus, Nebraska and the Logan Creek Watershed near Sioux City, Iowa. Available streamflow and water quality records for the two watersheds were used to calibrate model parameters that govern streamflow, sediment, and nutrient responses in SWAT. For each watershed, precipitation, air temperature, and CO2 concentrations were input to SWAT for four climatic conditions: a baseline condition for the 1980 to 2000 period and the SRES A2, A1B, and B1 climate scenarios for a future period from 2040 to 2059. Findings from this study suggest that under the three future climate change scenarios, sediment losses are expected to be about 1.2 to 1.5 times greater than the baseline condition for Shell Creek and 2 to 2.5 times greater for Logan Creek; total N losses are expected to be about 1.2 to 1.4 times greater for Shell Creek and 1.7 to 1.9 times greater for Logan Creek. Relative to the baseline, total P losses under the future climate scenarios are projected to be about the same for Shell Creek and 1.5 to 1.7 times greater for Logan Creek. Findings from this study also suggest that future projected increases in both precipitation and CO2 concentration account for net increases in streamflow, but in different ways on each watershed.