Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Texas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Texas Project

Modeling and Projecting the Influence of Climate Change on Texas Surface Waters and their Aquatic Biotic Communities

October 2009 - December 2012


Participating Agencies

  • Global Change

Water scarcity is a growing concern in Texas, where surface water is derived almost entirely from rainfall. How will climate change affect Texas surface waters? What are the potential impacts to the quality of aquatic habitat and the fish and wildlife that it sustains? As conflicts over the use of water resources grow in intensity, answers to these questions will become important for fish and wildlife resource managers to anticipate impacts and evaluate management options. To provide insight into climate change impacts on surface water and aquatic biota, scientists at the USGS and Texas Tech University are conducting this study, which involves using high-resolution climate projections to model and project regional impacts of climate change on characteristics of surface waters. This study has three tasks: (1) to gather historical, seasonal water temperatures and other relevant water quality information for selected reservoirs in the state with significant fisheries resources; (2) to develop downscaled statistical models capable of projecting the resulting water temperature patterns in the selected reservoirs; and (3) based on available information for selected species regarding their thermal tolerances and preferences for essential activities such as reproduction, to assess the impact of the predicted change on populations and communities. A retrospective analysis is also being conducted to determine if any relationships exist between changing water temperature patterns (or other water quality parameters) and the relatively recent spread of invasive golden algae, which has damaged fisheries resources of Texas and at least 19 other states in the country.