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Water and Climate Change Research

Climate change can impact water resources at local and regional scales. For example, in some areas of the United States, droughts and extreme rainfall events are increasing, which can effect water supplies in these areas. These patterns are expected to continue and to shift outside of historical trends—making forecasting our water quality and quantity more difficult. 

EPA conducts research to better understand impacts of climate change on water quality and availability. This cutting-edge science helps determine and support new strategies for managing watersheds and drinking water supplies, 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 the following:

  • 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 a 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.

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