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Research Projects - Climate Change (Track 1)
Nevada has a need to augment existing infrastructures to provide a comprehensive understanding of how climate change will impact the water cycle resource systems. This need has been identified in a study performed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Desert Research Institute and is identified as a priority in Nevada’s Science and Technology Plan. A need exists in Nevada and in the Southwest region to better quantify storage and fluxes associated with the water cycle. Especially important is definition of the amount of recharge (or perennial yield) that basins experience. Such recharge can be considered baseline water resources against which future environmental changes are measured.
The objective of the Water Resources component is to develop infrastructure to measure, analyze, and model changes in water balance and assess changes in supply. NSHE faculty along with the Southern Nevada Water Authority are working together to measure evapotranspiration, groundwater depths, and rainfall on a basin scale. Data from the hydrometeorological network will be used to better understand processes controlling recharge and will be used with numerical models to evaluate interactions between surface and groundwater systems and how these interactions will differ under climate change.
Annual Report Highlights
A Powerhouse of Climate Change Data - NevCAN
Outcome: The Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN), located at sites along two elevation gradients, is now acquiring and archiving data from sensors measuring environmental parameters including air temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction, solar radiation (net and PAR), relative humidity, soil moisture and temperature, runoff* and plant water use* and growth*. A webcam provides information on phenology, snow depth and general conditions at each site. Data are transmitted to the Nevada Climate Change Portal: http://sensor.nevada.edu/NCCP/Default.aspx.
(* These sensors are only installed at a subset of sites where conditions meet method thresholds and for key tree species.)
Impact: NevCAN is a unique network acquiring data within key vegetation zones from valley to mountain top in the Great Basin and northern Mojave Deserts. It fills a monitoring void by providing real-time climate, soil and plant data for this region, particularly at higher altitudes where snow plays an important role in groundwater recharge.
Explanation: NevCAN data are providing researchers with the first ever ability to assess the impact of climate variability and change along elevation gradients within the most arid regions of the U.S. The resulting data will also allow teachers to educate students and the public about the impact of climate variability on key variables such as precipitation and temperature, and how this effects water availability and ecosystem function within this dry region.
Location of NevCAN transects and graphic representation of elevation gradients
Typical sensor deployment (left) at the Snake Range Subalpine West site (center)
Authors: L. Fenstermaker1, F. Biondi2, D. Devitt3, J. Arnone1, L. Saito2, S. Strachan2, B. Bird3, B. Lyles1, G. McCurdy1 and R. Jasoni1 (1Desert Research Institute, 2University of Nevada, Reno and 3University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
This work was supported by NSF Cooperative Agreement EPS-‐0814372 to the Nevada System of Higher Education.