Modeling the effects of climate change on the Rio Grande 2.0

Team: 36

School: Mayfield High

Area of Science: Environmental Science- Environmental Alteration

Interim: Problem Definition: Living in New Mexico, the Rio Grande is one of our main sources of
water. In order to meet environmental and legal requirements, the river is engineered to meet
certain stream flow obligations (via. Elephant Butte, Caballo, and other dams). Upon the advent
of climate change, water availability is expected to be impacted drastically. Under future water
conditions, will we be able to sustain our current stream flow obligations?

Problem Solution: In order to solve this, I will model a simple water management system.
Using past precipitation and reservoir capacity data, I will be able to compute regression
models to predict future reservoir capacity. This process will be completed for three dams across
New Mexico. With the reservoir capacity, I will be able to run our simulation and determine
whether or not the case is sustainable with the given amount of water. In addition to the multiple
dams being modeled, I plan on creating several future scenarios for reservoir capacity based on
possibly temperature and precipitation outcomes that have been previously created.

Progress to Date: I have currently gathered over 100 years of reservoir capacity data from Elephant Butte and am looking for trends in the data. Research on specific legal obligations which might have influenced the data is an ongoing process.

Expected Results: As time increases I expect to see a significant decrease in the capacity of
the reservoirs. As the amount of water decreases I’ll expect an increasingly greater strain on
meeting streamflow obligations, until it is deemed unsustainable.


Team Members:

  Mireya Sanchez-Maes

Sponsoring Teacher: Raul Casillas

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