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Human-Induced Changes in the Hydrology of the Western United States

Science  22 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5866, pp. 1080-1083
DOI: 10.1126/science.1152538

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Abstract

Observations have shown that the hydrological cycle of the western United States changed significantly over the last half of the 20th century. We present a regional, multivariable climate change detection and attribution study, using a high-resolution hydrologic model forced by global climate models, focusing on the changes that have already affected this primarily arid region with a large and growing population. The results show that up to 60% of the climate-related trends of river flow, winter air temperature, and snow pack between 1950 and 1999 are human-induced. These results are robust to perturbation of study variates and methods. They portend, in conjunction with previous work, a coming crisis in water supply for the western United States.

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