Hydro-Climate Symposium

Oral

395099 - Impacts of historical and future climate change on the blue water footprint of hydropower in the United States

Wednesday, June 6
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Lake Superior B
Co-Authors: Huilin Gao, United States – Texas A&M University; Shih-Chieh Kao, United States – Oak Ridge National Laboratory

As one of the largest renewable energy sources, hydropower contributes about 17% of the electricity production in the world. Even though it produces no waste, hydropower utilizes a considerable amount of water, and is associated with the enhanced open water evaporation through its reservoir impoundment. The water footprint of hydropower may become even larger with the continuous rising temperature and evaporation. To facilitate the sustainable management of both water and energy resources under the impact of climate change in the conterminous United States (CONUS), the blue water footprint of 147 major reservoirs with primary purpose of hydroelectricity generation was evaluated during the period of 1985–2011. The hydroelectric facilities associated with these reservoirs produce around 74% of total annual hydropower generation in the CONUS. Reservoir evaporation loss was calculated using the remotely sensed reservoir surface area and the modeled evaporation rate. To avoid using a fixed surface area for the reservoirs (which was adopted by all other studies, and generally led to over-or-under estimation), time-variant surface areas were generated using Landsat imageries on the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform. Evaporation rates were calculated using the Penman-Monteith Equation with heat storage effects incorporated. Future surface area and evaporation rate under a changing climate was approximated based on the projected future meteorological forcings from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) archive. Historical results show that the direct evaporation from these impoundments is large and non-negligible, especially for the reservoirs that serve for multiple purposes. Rising temperature caused by greenhouse gas emission will further elevate this loss, even though spatial heterogeneity exists for different regions.

Gang Zhao, PhD

Graduate Research Assistant
Texas A&M University College Station

Gang Zhao, a PhD candidate in Water Resources Engineering in Texas A&M University.
Gang is a hydrology modeler and focus his research on climate change, urbanization, water resouces management, and water quality.
Recently, he is employing Distributed Hydrology Soil Vegetation Model (DHSVM) to explore the effect of climate change induced drought and population growth on magacity water supply system. At the mean time, he is trying to evaluate how the inflow from the land to Gulf of Mexico affect the water quality in the gulf, especially in coastal areas, which are more vulnerable to inland nutrient inputs.

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