Project Overview

This four-year study is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and uses the Truckee-Carson River System (TCRS) in a pilot study to learn how to best link science with decision-making in snow-fed arid-land river systems. By working collaboratively with stakeholders, Water for the Seasons (WftS) aims to create a model for improving community climate resiliency or the ability to adapt to extreme climatic conditions.

It is funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and uses the TCRS in a pilot study to learn how to best link science with decision-making in snow-fed arid-land river systems. By working collaboratively with stakeholders, WftS aims to create a model for improving community climate resiliency, or the ability to adapt to extreme climatic conditions.

tcrs map

Where we work

The TCRS originates in the Sierra Nevada, and relies on winter snowpack and spring runoff as the primary sources of water (see map, below). The TCRS provides water for municipalities, agriculture, industry, recreation, tourism, fisheries and wildlife habitat. In snow-fed arid-land river systems such as the TCRS, the duration and timing of storms and runoff are critical factors that determine quality of life, making these communities particularly vulnerable to complex and unexpected drought and flood events. The TCRS was selected for this pilot study because it is a prime example of a snow-fed arid-land river system, which within a relatively small geographic area encompasses many of the major water management challenges common to communities in the American West.

 

What is Climate Resiliency?

Climate-related extremes such as heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires impact natural ecosystems, threaten food and water supplies, and put human lives and infrastructure at risk. In the Southwestern United States, climate change has already been linked to heatwaves, drought and wildfires. Predictions for the future include declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, human health impacts and changes to snowpack

Project Goals

WftS will create a framework for engaging diverse stakeholder communities in the effort to improve water sustainability and climate resiliency in the TCRS. WftS does not aim to resolve historical water allocation disputes, but to enhance knowledge for water managers and water right holders to adapt to a changing climate.

The result will be an integrated suite of models that can be used for planning purposes by water managers, agricultural producers and municipalities in snow-fed arid land systems around the world.

Goals:

  1. Use stakeholder knowledge to define extreme climate scenarios that impact water supply and demand.
  2. Model water supply and demand outcomes that result from these climate scenarios.
  3. Integrate human decision-making with hydroclimatic models to understand water sustainability and climate resiliency.
  4. Assess the transferability of the TCRS models to snow-fed arid land systems globally.

A climate-resilient community is one that has developed the capacity to adapt or respond effectively to change in the face of extreme climate events. Its stakeholders understand, acknowledge, anticipate and absorb extreme climate events, and possess the capacity to reorganize as necessary to maintain essential community functions and identity.

 
News Articles, Fact Sheets, Reports...
Adapting to Variable Water Supply in the Truckee-Carson River System: Results of Focus Groups Conducted in 2016 with Local Water Managers
Water for the Seasons is an integrated research and Extension program that partners researchers with community stakeholders in the Truckee-Carson River System to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with droughts and floods.
Sterle, K. and Singletary, L. 2017, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-17-15
Adapting Truckee River Reservoir Operations for a Warmer Climate
This fact sheet reports results from Water for the Seasons, a collaborative modeling research program that partners researchers with water managers representing the diverse water-use communities in the Truckee-Carson River System in California and Nevada.
Sterle, K.M., Jose, L., Coors, S., Pohll, G., Singletary, L., and Rajagopal, S. 2018, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, FS-18-06
Assessing the Climate Resiliency and Adaptive Capacity of the Truckee-Carson River System: Preliminary Results of a Survey of Local Organizations
Water for the Seasons partners scientists with community stakeholders in the Truckee-Carson River System to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with extreme climate events, such as droughts and foods. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Singletary, L., Sterle, K., and Simpson, K. 2016, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-16-03
Climate Scenarios for the Truckee-Carson River System.
Water for the Seasons partners scientists with community stakeholders in the Truckee-Carson River System to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with extreme climate events such as droughts and floods.
Dettinger, M.D., Sterle, K., Simpson, K., Singletary, L., Fitzgerald, K., and McCarthy, M. 2017, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-17-05.
Collaborative Modeling to Assess and Enhance Community Climate Resiliency
Creating effective community responses to improve resilience to extreme climate events, such as prolonged drought, requires acknowledging and understanding the interaction between human and natural systems.
Singletary, L. 2016, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, Fact Sheet FS-16-04
Collaborative modeling to assess and enhance the climate resiliency of snow-fed river dependent communities Singletary, L. & Sterle, K. 2018, Lachapelle, P.R. & D. Albrecht. (Eds.), Addressing Climate Change at the Community Level in the United States. Community Development Research and Practice Series, New York: Routledge.
Collaboratively Modeling Water Resources in the Truckee-Carson River System.
Water for the Seasons partners scientists with community stakeholders in the Truckee-Carson River System to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with extreme climate events such as droughts and floods, using collaborative modeling research design that strategically links scientific research with communities
Sterle, K., Singletary, L., and Pohll, G. 2017, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-17-04.
Four Climate Scenarios Developed to Explore Adaptation Strategies for the Truckee-Carson River System.
This fact sheet reports results from Water for the Seasons, a collaborative modeling research program that partners an interdisciplinary research team with water managers representing the diverse water-use communities in the Truckee-Carson River System in California and Nevada.
Christine M. Albano, Kelley M. Sterle, Michael D. Dettinger and Loretta Singletary 2019, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, FS-19-09.
Hydroclimatic Variability in Snow-fed River Systems: Local Water Managers’ Perspectives on Adapting to the New Normal.
In the snow-fed Truckee-Carson River System in the northern Sierra Nevada, water managers are adapting to the “new normal” climate inclusive of increased hydroclimate variability, warmer temperatures, and drought and flood extremes.
Sterle, K., Hatchett, B., Singletary, L., & Pohll, G. 2019, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100: 1031–1048.
Managed Aquifer Recharge in Snow-Fed River Basins: What, Why and How?
Water for the Seasons is a collaborative modeling research program that partners researchers with water managers representing the diverse water-use communities in the Truckee-Carson River System in California and Nevada.
Sterle, K., Kitlasten, W., Morway, E., Niswonger, R., and Singletary, L. 2019, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, FS-19-10
Shifts in Local Climate Adaptation Strategies Over the 2015-2017 Water Years: A Case Study in the Truckee-Carson River System.
This fact sheet reports results from Water for the Seasons, a collaborative modeling research program that partners researchers with water managers representing the diverse water-use communities in the Truckee-Carson River System of California and Nevada.
Sterle, K., and Singletary, L. 2018, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, FS-18-04.
Sustaining Water and Climate Resiliency in the Truckee-Carson River system
Water for the Seasons partners scientists with community stakeholders in the Truckee-Carson River System to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with extreme climate events, such as droughts and floods.
McCarthy, M., Singletary, L., Sterle, K., Simpson K., Fitzgerald, K., Pohll, G., Rajagopal S., Huntington, J., Dettinger M., Niswonger, R., and Kauneckis, D. 2016, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, Fact Sheet FS-16-01
The Relationship between Priority and Value of Irrigation Water Used with Prior Appropriation Water Rights
This article examines the relationship between water right priority and value of use for rights defined by prior appropriation, and tests whether this relationship is different for rights that have been transferred from their original locations to new locations, versus those that have not.
Lee, G.-E., Rollins, K., and Singletary, L. 2020, Land Economics, 96(3): 384-398
Water Sustainability and Climate in the Truckee-Carson River System, Western United States: 10 Key Takeaways from the Water for the Seasons Collaborative Research Program.
This Special Publication briefly introduces the Truckee-Carson River System case study area, describes the Water for the Seasons research program, and presents 10 key takeaways from this five-year collaboration between local water managers and researchers.
Sterle, K., Singletary, L., Lee, G.-E., Rollins, K., Pohll, G., McCarthy, M., Rajagopal, S., Albano, C., Boyer, W., Huntington, J., Dettinger, M., Niswonger, R., Morway, R., Kitlasten, W., Gardner, M., Coors, S., and Jose, L. 2020, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-20-02.

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Learn more about the program's team

Loretta Singletary
Program Leader & Contact
Olga Ilchuk
Program Contact