Impacts of climate change on terrestrial hydrological components and crop water use in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

By Parthkumar A. Modi, Daniel R. Fuka and Zachary M.Easton


  • Mesoscale approach for data-scarce agricultural regions.
  • Projected increase in precipitation and temperature.
  • Declining crop water use due to increased precipitation and rising CO2 levels.


This study assessed the impacts of climate change on terrestrial hydrological components and Crop Water Use (CWU) over the Chesapeake Bay watershed using a combination of Global Climate Models (GCMs) and a land surface model. To better understand the impacts of climate change on the hydrological cycle, long-term simulations of multiple earth system models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP Phase 5) are statistically downscaled and bias-corrected using Multivariate Adaptive Constructed Analogs (MACA) scheme for use as model forcing. Precipitation indices from the twenty MACA-based GCMs are used to identify six best performing models. A mesoscale approach is developed, where CWU is estimated by accounting for the impacts of changing climate conditions and rising CO2 levels. Daily grid-based crop coefficients are derived from evapotranspiration data. The findings indicate a significant annual increase in precipitation (10 %) and temperature (+4.5 K) for the RCP 8.5 scenario towards the end of the 21st century. A significant reduction (13 % and 17 % respectively) in CWU is estimated for corn and soybeans, resulting from increased total precipitation and rising CO2 levels suppressing evapotranspiration. Our results indicate that even in a warmer regime, crop water use decreased due to rising CO2 concentrations due to climate change.

The full article appeared on the Journal of Hydrology website at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214581821000598?dgcid=rss_sd_all


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