An integrated modeling approach for estimating the potential hydrologic impacts of urbanization and climatic changes in Hinkson Creek watershed
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Land-use changes and climatic changes are two of the most significant phenomena impacting water regimes globally. Since ongoing land-use changes in the form urbanization and projected climate changes are expected to have significant effects on hydrologic processes in many watersheds during coming decades, it is increasingly important for planners to understand how these stressors affect water regimes in order to develop successful watershed management strategies. Given these concerns, the objective of this research was to develop and utilize integrated modeling approaches in order to characterize potential changes to the water regime in Hinkson Creek Watershed (HCW), Boone County, Missouri. The research consisted of three main objectives: 1) to couple a CA-based urban growth model with a process-based hydrologic model to investigate the potential impacts of urbanization on hydrologic processes in HCW during the next two decades, 2) to develop climate scenarios using downscaled GCM output and couple these with a process-based hydrologic model to estimate the potential impacts of mid- and late-21st century climate changes on streamflow related processes in HCW, and 3) to use downscaled GCM output along with a cellular automata (CA) based urban growth model and a process-based hydrologic model to analyze the combined effects of mid-21st century climatic changes and urbanization on hydrologic processes in HCW. The research provided new insight into how two of the most significant stressors affecting water resources could impact a watershed in the Midwestern United States. Aside from providing direct estimates of hydrologic changes for HCW that can be referenced by local planners and decision makers, the results from these studies provide a basis for comparison for other watersheds that share similar characteristics. This work also contributes to the field of integrated modeling in natural resources, as there is currently a paucity of research investigating the potential impacts of urbanization and climatic changes on water resources, particularly using high-resolution impervious cover estimates and data from the most recent suite of climate models. In addition, the approaches presented here provide a transferrable modeling framework that can be used by decision makers to analyze watersheds in other regions and help to develop urbanization and climate change mitigation strategies.