Effectiveness of Wetland Restoration

Project Title: Effectiveness of Wetland Restoration in Mitigating Extreme Streamflows under Future Climate Change in the White River Watershed of Indiana

Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Bangshuai Han, Ball State University, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management

Dates: June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020

Total Federal Funds:  Total Non-Federal Funds:

Project Reports
Project Factsheet

It is projected that Indiana’s warming rate is accelerating, with an increase of precipitation in winter and spring. Indiana will experience drier and warmer crop growing seasons and wetter winters in the future. These conditions lead to various water management challenges in Indiana, including adaptation to more flooding and droughts and potentially a shift from rainfed agriculture to irrigation agriculture. There is a critical need for scientists to help Indiana residents better adapt to future climate change, e.g., by controlling extreme flow events (including high and low flows) that will help mitigate flooding and droughts.
Wetlands are known to buffer streamflow by intercepting surface and sub-surface flows, thereby helping mitigate extreme flooding and droughts. Current restoration decisions usually focus on individual wetland projects and local site conditions, thus missing the aggregated effects of hydrologically connected wetlands at the watershed scale. This study will: 1) develop a modeling approach to simulate wetland restoration effects to streamflow under future climate change scenarios, and 2) produce knowledge and benchmark datasets that will be quickly and broadly disseminated. Deliverables from the work will include a cluster of watershed-scale datasets for six proposed climate change and wetland restoration scenarios. Under each scenario, the research will project future climate change patterns, future streamflow regimes shift, and the potential benefits of wetland restoration to buffering streamflow, thus reducing risks of flooding and droughts. This study will advance understanding of wetland functions at the watershed scale and assist elected officials at the state and local levels, decision makers, and local communities to better adapt to future climate change when making restoration plans to support soil and water conservation and healthy wetlands.