Date of Award
Master of Science
This study investigated the impact of changing climate and growing population on water supply and demand in one of the most rapidly growing cities in the semi-arid regions of western US, Las Vegas Valley (LVV), Nevada. Future scenarios of supply and demand using climate and hydrological models of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) and a more recent CMIP5 have been evaluated and a comparison of their results has been made. A system dynamics model for LVV was developed with a period of study from 1989 to 2049. For the study area, climate and hydrological data projections for the future period (2013-2049) were obtained from the outputs of 16 Global Climate Models (GCMs) of CMIP3 model ensemble with 3 emission scenarios and that from 37 GCMs of CMIP5 model ensemble with 4 Representative concentration pathways. Population growth forecast by Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and prevalent conservation practices by Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) were used for the model. The water availability scenario in the future for LVV in the form of Lake Mead elevation was assessed and the water demand was also predicted. This study found that mean lake elevation for the future period (2013-2049) can go as low as 21.8% lesser than that for the historical period (1989-2012). 59 of 97 projections of CMIP5 models against 27 of 48 projections of CMIP3 models indicated that the future mean lake elevation would be lower than the historical mean. Demand forecasts showed Southern Nevada Water Authority conservation goal for 2035 could be met under prevalent conservation practices. This study can be very useful for the water managers and planners to predict the future water budget, plan accordingly, and make decisions to achieve water sustainability. This study has been performed as a part of the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) program to assess the current vulnerability of LVV to drought, and the impact on supply and demand of water resources for the future climate scenarios.
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