Modeling climate change impacts - and uncertainty - on the hydrology of a riparian system: The San Pedro Basin (Arizona/Sonora)

Aleix Serrat-Capdevila, Juan B. Valdés, Javier González Pérez, Kate Baird, Luis J. Mata, Thomas Maddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


An assessment of climate change impacts in the water resources of a semi-arid basin in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora is presented using results from an ensemble of 17 global circulation models (GCMs) and four different climate change scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Annual GCM precipitation data for the region is spatially downscaled and used to derive spatially distributed recharge estimates in the San Pedro Basin. A three dimensional transient groundwater-surface water flow model is used to simulate the hydrology of the current century, from 2000 to 2100, under different climate scenarios and model estimates. Groundwater extraction in the basin was maintained constant and equal to current. The use of multiple climate model results provides a highest-likelihood mean estimate as well as a measure of its uncertainty and a range of less probable outcomes. Results suggest that recharge in the San Pedro basin will decrease, affecting the dynamics of the riparian area in the long term. It is shown that mean net stream gain, i.e. base flow, will decrease and the effects on the riparian area could be significant. The results of this work provide a basis for the inclusion of representative climate scenarios into the basin's existing decision support system model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-66
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 15 2007


  • Climate change
  • Hydrological model
  • Multi-GCM projections
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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