First Advisor

Heejun Chang

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Climatic changes -- Oregon -- Tualatin River Watershed, Urbanization -- Oregon -- Tualatin River Watershed, Climatic changes, Urbanization, Water-supply, Tualatin River Watershed (Or.) -- Water-supply, Oregon -- Tualatin River Watershed



Physical Description

1 online resource (206 p.)


Potential impacts of climate change on the water resources of the Pacific Northwest of the United States include earlier peak runoff, reduced summer flows, and increased winter flooding. An increase in impervious surfaces, accompanied by urban development, is known to decrease infiltration and increase surface runoff. Alterations of flow amount and pathways can alter water quality through dilution or flushing effects. I used the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) modeling system to investigate the relative importance of future climate change and land use change in determining the quantity and quality of freshwater resources in north western Oregon's Tualatin River Basin. The basin was chosen for this study because it is rapidly urbanizing and representative of other low-elevation basins in the region. BASINS models were calibrated and validated using historic flow and water quality data from 1991 to 2006. The goodness-of-fit for the calibrated hydrology, suspended sediment, and orthophosphate models was high, with coefficients of determination ranging from 0.72 to 0.93 in the calibration period. The calibrated models were run under a range of eight downscaled climate change, two regional land use change, and four combined scenarios. Results included average increases in winter flows of ten percent, decreases in summer flows of thirty-seven percent, and increases in fifth percentile flows of up to eighty percent as a result of climate change in the Tualatin River Basin. For land use change, the results included an increase in annual flows of twenty-one percent for the development-oriented scenario and a decrease of sixteen percent for the conservation-oriented scenario, with amplified changes at the sub-basin scale, including more than doubled winter flow. For combined scenarios of climate change and urban development, there is a projected increase in winter flows of up to seventy-one percent and decrease in summer flows of up to forty-eight percent. Changes in suspended sediment and orthophosphate loading broadly tracked hydrological changes, with winter increases and summer decreases. The results are relevant to regional planners interested in the long-term response of water resources to climate change and land use change at the basin scale.


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