Sustainable water resources in Indiana in a changing world

Predicting water access and sustainability

Wabash Basin. Image courtesy of Future Water.

In comparison to other parts of the country, a substantial percentage of Indiana’s economy is dependent on water. Small changes in temperature, such as those brought about by climate change, can affect the hydrological cycle in ways that potentially hurt Hoosier farms, businesses, and communities.

To predict future water availability and quality in the state, a team led by IU Earth and Atmospheric Science Professor Chen Zhu is simulating the Wabash River Basin, which covers 60 percent of the state, through 2100 under various climate change scenarios. The team is using the USDA Soil-Water Assessment Tool software package and climate projections from an ensemble of global climate models for medium and high emissions scenarios. Projections will focus on seasonal streamflow, evapotransporation, soil moisture, and groundwater recharge.

A science gateway is being created to give researchers, policymakers, and the public access to the team’s data and model source codes. Some modeling results will be available as interactive maps showing projected changes in precipitation, streamflow, and soil moisture. The models will continually be updated as newer and better data becomes available and serve as a platform for research collaboration and management of Indiana’s water quantity and quality.

For more information, visit the Future Water website.