A new study found that global warming which leads to warmer temperature may affect the water supply in Salt Lake City. The researchers revealed that every 1 Fahrenheit increase may be equal to a 3.8 percent cut on the watershed.
Tim Bardsley, lead author of the study, and his colleagues analyzed the waterflow from four major creeks which are the primary water source of Salt Lake City. Bardsley is also a Utah liaison and hydrologist for Western Water Assessment through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Up to 60 percent of the water supply in Salt Lake City comes from four Wasatch Front streams: City Creek, Parleys Creek and Big and Little Cottonwood creeks. The watershed serves over 349,000 people.
"We focused on those four creeks because they are a primary supply that runs right into the city," Bardsley told the Salt Lake Tribune. "It is the timing of stream flow that is of particular importance to Salt Lake City."
The researchers used historical weather records to create some of the models and possible scenarios. They also analyzed the trees near the watershed to check for traces of droughts that may have occurred in the past.
"While the observed droughts were extreme, even in the context of the 600-year period, the tree-ring record indicated there have been droughts of greater intensity or duration," Bardsley said. "What we found is that temperature increases could produce short- and long-term droughts well beyond any severity in the observed tree-ring records."
After reviewing the records and preparing the models, their findings revealed that for every 1 Fahrenheit increase in the temperature, a 3.8 percent reduction in the water supply was noted in the watershed.
The study was published in the online journal Earth Interactions.