Global Warming and the American Economy

Global Warming and the American Economy

A Regional Assessment of Climate Change Impacts

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Robert Mendelsohn

The impact of climate change on seven regions of the United States is studied in this new and accessible collection. The study examines how the different regions of the United States may be affected by climate change. In particular, the study explores whether warming would be beneficial to the northern (colder) regions but harmful to the economies of the southern (warmer) regions.

Chapter 5: Water resources: Economic analysis

Brian Hurd and Megan Harrod

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental sociology


Brian Hurd and Megan Harrod INTRODUCTION Water systems may be economically vulnerable to changes in global climate. The indicators of climate change – including higher temperatures, new patterns of precipitation, changes in evaporation rates and changes in the frequency and intensity of droughts and storms – can have important consequences for water users and the institutions that regulate water supply and demand. Analyses of climate change impacts on water supply and use have evolved from projections of runoff changes to methods that link physical and water management models. Early studies used statistical models to relate climate (temperature and precipitation) to runoff at the river basin scale level (for example, Stockton and Boggess 1979, Revelle and Waggoner 1983). Nemec and Schaake (1982) improved on these approaches by calibrating a physical runoff model and projecting the effects of climate changes on runoff. Other researchers (for example, Gleick 1987, Lettenmaier et al. 1993) helped advance the state of the art in hydrologic modeling and raised interesting issues about how climate change might influence competition for water. These studies, however, did not grapple directly with allocation issues in a quantitative fashion. This assessment aims to provide researchers and policy makers with a more in-depth analysis of specific regional impacts from climate change. Our assessment is based on four watershed optimization models that simulate major regional economic and physical attributes of water resource supply and use. The four US watersheds simulated are the Colorado, Missouri, Delaware and Apalachicola–Flint–Chattahoochee. These were selected on the...

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