Climate change has many impacts on our natural resources, including shifts to the local and regional hydrologic (water-flow) cycle. For example, in many areas of our country, frequency of droughts and extreme rainfall events are increasing. Every year seems to bring about an earlier spring melt and increased surface water temperatures. These new patterns are expected to continue and to shift outside of historical trends – making forecasting our water quality and supply more difficult. Additionally, more than two thirds of our country is anticipating water shortages over the next several years.
EPA conducts research to better understand these growing impacts of climate change on water quality and availability. This cutting-edge science helps determine and support new strategies for managing watersheds and wastewater while reducing water-related energy demands. In order to protect public health and the health of our ecosystems in the face of a changing climate, EPA research focuses on:
- Modeling climate-related water resource stressors such as nutrient pollution
- Analyzing biological indicators, such as microbial, and habitat indicators, such as hydrologic alteration, to determine the condition of the watershed
- Determining how climate change affects water quality, flow patterns, and flooding risk
- Understanding estuarine and coastal vulnerabilities to climate-related factors
- Designing predictive tools for improved land use management and water utility practices
- Developing adaptation strategies, including economic, social, and ecological approaches to meet climate-related challenges.