Evaluating the impact of climate change on fluvial flood risk in a mixed-use watershed

Xin Xu, Yu Chen Wang, Margaret Kalcic, Rebecca Muenich, Y. C.Ethan Yang, Donald Scavia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Predicting flood risk is important for climate change adaptation. We quantify fluvial flood risk due to changing climate in a mixed-use watershed in Michigan, USA. We apply two approaches to project future climate change: an ensemble of temperature and precipitation perturbations on the historical record and an ensemble of global and regional climate models. We incorporate climate projections into the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to estimate daily streamflow, then quantify flood risk using indices related to flood probability, duration, magnitude, and frequency. Results indicate rising temperatures may counteract small increases in precipitation, likely due to increased evapotranspiration. Climate model data without bias correction used in SWAT produced reasonable future streamflow changes—similar to the perturbation of historical climate—therefore retaining the predicted change in the flood frequency distribution. This work advances the application of climate models in SWAT for flood risk evaluation at watershed scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104031
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Climate change
  • Flood risk
  • SWAT model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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