Quantifying climate change hydrologic risk at NASA Ames Reseaerch Center

shared by Cristina Milesi on Dec 13, 2013

Summary

AGU 2013 Poster by Mills et al.

In response to 2009 Executive Order 13514 mandating U.S. federal agencies to evaluate infrastructure vulnerabilities due to climate variability and change we provide an analysis of future climate flood risk at NASA Ames Research Center (Ames) along South S.F. Bay. This includes likelihood analysis of large-scale water vapor transport, statistical analysis of intense precipitation, high winds, sea level rise, storm surge, estuary dynamics, saturated overland flooding, and likely impacts to wetlands and habitat loss near Ames. We use the IPCC CMIP5 data from three Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models with Radiative Concentration Pathways of 8.5 Wm-2 and 4.5 Wm-2 and provide an analysis of climate variability and change associated with flooding and impacts at Ames. Intense storms impacting Ames are due to two large-scale processes, sub-tropical atmospheric rivers (AR) and north Pacific Aleutian low-pressure (AL) storm systems, both of which are analyzed here in terms of the Integrated Water Vapor (IWV) exceeding a critical threshold within a search domain and the wind vector transporting the IWV from southerly to westerly to northwesterly for ARs and northwesterly to northerly for ALs and within the Ames impact area during 1970-1999, 2040-2069, and 2070-2099. We also include a statistical model of extreme precipitation at Ames based on large-scale climatic predictors, and characterize changes using CMIP5 projections. Requirements for levee height to protect Ames are projected to increase and continually accelerate throughout this century as sea level rises. We use empirical statistical and analytical methods to determine the likelihood, in each year from present through 2099, of water level surpassing different threshold values in SF Bay near NASA Ames. We study the sensitivity of the water level corresponding to a 1-in-10 and 1-in-100 likelihood of exceedance to changes in the statistical distribution of storm surge height and ENSO height, in addition to increasing mean sea level. We examine the implications in the face of the CMIP5 projections. Storm intensification may result in increased flooding hazards at Ames. We analyze how the changes in precipitation intensity will impact the storm drainage system at Ames through continuous stormwater modeling of runoff with the EPA model SWMM 5 and projected downscaled daily precipitation data. Although extreme events will not adversely affect wetland habitats, adaptation projects-- especially levee construction and improvement--will require filling of wetlands. Federal law mandates mitigation for fill placed in wetlands. We are currently calculating the potential mitigation burden by habitat type.

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