I analyzed and compared impacts from global climate change (GCC) and land use change to Deer Creek (United States) a temperate reservoir and Aguamilpa (Mexico), a tropical reservoir by using calibrated CE-QUAL-W2 (W2) water quality and hydrodynamic models based on field data over an extended time period. I evaluated and compared the sensitivity to predicted GCC and land use changes. I individually evaluated changes to air temperature (TAIR), inflow rates (Q), and nutrient loads (PO4-P and NO3-NO2-N) followed by analysis of worst case scenarios. I developed analysis methods using indexes to represent the total reservoir change calculated using the total parameter mass (i.e., algae, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids) normalized by the reservoir volume to eliminate apparent mass changes due to volume changes. These indexes have units of average concentrations, but are better thought of as a global reservoir index or normalized concentration. These indexes allow analysis of the total reservoir and not just specific zones. Total normalized algal concentrations were impacted more by changes in nutrient inflows (land use) in both reservoirs than to changes in TAIR and Q. For Deer Creek, PO4-P changes significantly increased normalized algal concentrations in the reservoir and in dam releases when PO4-P inflow was increased by 50%. Aguamilpa was more sensitive to NO3-NO2-N changes, exhibiting significant increases in normalized algal concentration for the +50% NO3-NO2-N simulation. Both reservoirs showed small changes to normalized algal concentration for the +3ºC TAIR simulation with the largest changes occurring during warm seasons. However, Deer Creek exhibited decreased total algal levels when TAIR was increased by 3ºC while Aguamilpa showed increased total algal levels with the 3ºC increase in TAIR. These contrasting trends, a decrease in Deer Creek and an increase in Aguamilpa, were produced by algae succession processes. Changes in Q affected normalized algal concentration in both reservoirs in different ways. In Aguamilpa, total algal levels increased under dry conditions while Deer Creek showed little general change associated with flow changes. Worst case scenario simulations, which included changing more than one parameter, showed that GCC changes can cause large impacts if they occur simultaneously with high nutrient loadings. These results begin to show how GCC could impact reservoirs and how these impacts compare to potential impacts from land use change. The results show that both temperate and tropical reservoirs are impacted by GCC but are more sensitive to nutrients. The methods, plots, and tools developed in this study can assist water managers in evaluating and studying GCC and land use changes effects in reservoirs worldwide.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





climate change, water quality modeling, tropical reservoir, temperate reservoir