Reconciling Projections of Future Colorado River Streamflow

Project Dates

Several recent studies estimate that the future streamflow of the Colorado River will decline due to drought and climate change. However, estimates from these projections range from less than 10% to a 45% decline by 2050. This cross-RISA research team explored why this large range exists and suggested ways that scientists and other stakeholders could apply these projections for future research and adaptation efforts.

Although the projections show drastically different amounts of streamflow reduction, it is still evident across all studies that Colorado River streamflow will be reduced due to climate change. Additionally, current reconstructions of the worst possible drought for the Colorado River are underestimates of the severity and duration of drought that has occurred, and that could occur, in the Colorado River Basin.