Modeling and Projecting the Influence of Climate Change on Texas Surface Waters and their Aquatic Biotic Communities

Reynaldo Patino, William H Asquith, Katherine Hayhoe, Chris Taylor
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 7/14/2023

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Water scarcity is a growing concern in Texas, where surface water is derived almost entirely from rainfall. Changes in air temperature and precipitation patterns associated with global climate change are anticipated to regionally affect the quality and quantity of inland surface waters and consequently their suitability as habitat for freshwater life. In addition to directly affecting resident organisms and populations, these changes in physicochemical traits of aquatic habitats may favor the establishment of harmful invasive species. As conflicts over the use of water resources grow in intensity, this information will become important for fish and wildlife managers to anticipate impacts of climate change on trust resources and to evaluate their management options.

This project has four objectives:

  1. To assemble an electronic database of observed historical water temperatures and other relevant water quality information for selected reservoirs in Texas with significant fisheries resource status
  2. To combine historical records of reservoir water quality, air temperature, and precipitation with projected climate changes to develop statistical models capable of projecting the potential impacts of future climate change on patterns of water temperature and quality in the selected reservoirs
  3. To assess the impact of the projected changes on the physical and chemical environment and on aquatic populations and communities
  4. To conduct a retrospective analysis of relations that may exist between historical changes in water quality and the relatively recent spread of a harmful invasive species in Texas, golden alga

Project Products:

  1. Climate-water quality relationships in Texas reservoirs (not open access)
  2. Impacts of Golden Alga Prymnesium parvum on Fish Populations in Reservoirs of the Upper Colorado River and Brazos River Basins, Texas (not open access)
  3. Long-term trends in reservoir water quality and quantity in two major river basins of the southern Great Plains (attached below)
  4. Relationships among Climate, Water Quality and Toxic Blooms of Golden Alga in Texas (attached below)
  5. Retrospective analysis of associations between water quality and toxic blooms of golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) in Texas reservoirs: Implications for understanding dispersal mechanisms and impacts of climate change (not open access)
  6. Spatially Pooled Depth-Dependent Reservoir Storage, Elevation, and Water Quality Data for Selected Reservoirs in Texas, January 1965–January 2010 (attached below)


Reynaldo Patino, William H. Asquith, Katherine Hayhoe, Chris Taylor. (2011). Modeling and Projecting the Influence of Climate Change on Texas Surface Waters and their Aquatic Biotic Communities. National CASC, USGS.

Affiliated Organizations

The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.


Adaptation Phase
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy