Nevada

Coupling snowpack and groundwater dynamics to interpret historical streamflow trends in the western United States

Contact First Name: 
Gordon
Contact Last Name: 
Grant
Principal Investigator(s): 
Gordon Grant, Mohammad Safeeq
Research Partners: 
Oregon State University
FS Research Station(s): 
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Summary: 

A key challenge for resource and land managers is predicting the consequences of climate warming on streamflow and water resources. Over the last century in the western US, significant reductions in snowpack and earlier snowmelt have led to an increase in the fraction of annual streamflow during winter, and a decline in the summer. This study explores the relative roles of snowpack accumulation and melt, and landscape characteristics or 'drainage efficiency', in influencing streamflow. An analysis of streamflow during 1950-2010 for 81 watersheds across the western US indicates that summer streamflows in watersheds that drain slowly from deep groundwater and receive precipitation as snow are most sensitive to climate warming. During the spring, however, watersheds that drain rapidly and receive precipitation as snow are most sensitive to climate warming. Our results indicate that not all trends in the western US are associated with changes in snowpack dynamics; we observe declining streamflow in late fall and winter in rain-dominated watersheds as well. These empirical findings have implications for how streamflow sensitivity to warming is interpreted across broad regions.

Project Abstract: 

See more below

Research Results: 

Coupling snowpack and groundwater dynamics to interpret historical stream flow trends in the western United States - http://www.fsl.orst.edu/wpg/pubs/13_Safeeqetal_HP.pdf

Geographic Region: 
United States
Northern Region (R1)
Idaho
Montana
Intermountain Region (R4)
Idaho
Nevada
Utah
Pacific Southwest Region (R5)
California
Pacific Northwest Region (R6)
Oregon
Washington
Project Status: 
Complete
Record Entry Date: 
Tue, 09/23/2014

Changing desert shrublands, past and present

Body
Understanding how plants have responded to changes in climate in the past can help predict how they may respond to changes in the future.

By Karen Bagne and Deborah Finch

Main column
Syndicate content

Was this page helpful?

Please help us improve the CCRC by giving us feedback.