First Advisor

Heejun Chang

Term of Graduation

Summer 2005

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Climatic changes -- Oregon -- Clackamas River Watershed, Geographic information systems -- Oregon -- Clackamas River Watershed, Hydrology -- Oregon -- Clackamas River Watershed, Hydrologic models -- Oregon -- Clackamas River Watershed



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 136 pages)


The Pacific Northwest is dependent on seasonal snowmelt for water resources that support a significant portion of its economy. Increased temperatures resulting from higher concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases may cause disruptions to these resources because of reductions in the annual snowpack and variations of the timing of snowmelt. This study reconstructs and applies a GIS-based distributed hydrologic model at a monthly scale to assess the effects of future climate change on runoff from the Upper Clackamas River Basin (located near Portland, Oregon). Historic flow data and snow measurements are used to calibrate and test the performance of the hydro logic model for a contemporary period (1971-2000), and the model is run for two future scenarios (2010-2039 and 2070-2099) using IS92 climate change scenarios from two global climate circulation models (Hadley and Canadian Centre for Climate) as inputs.

The results forecast that mean peak snowpack in the study area will drop dramatically (36% to 49% by 2010-2039, and 83% to 88% by 2070-2099), resulting in earlier runoff and diminished spring and summer flows. Increases to mean winter runoff by the 2070-2099 period vary from moderate (13.7%) to large (46.4%), depending on the changes to precipitation forecasted by the global climate circulation models. These results are similar to those of other studies in areas dependent on snowpack for seasonal runoff, but the reductions to snowpack are more severe in this study than similar studies for the entire Columbia Basin, presumably because the elevations of much of the Upper Clackamas Basin are near the current mid-winter snow line.


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