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Winter mean 700-hectoPascal (hPa) height anomalies, representing the average atmospheric circulation during the snow season, are compared with annual streamflow measured at 140 streamgauges in the western United States. Correlation and anomaly pattern analyses are used to identify relationships between winter mean atmospheric circulation and temporal and spatial variability in annual streamflow. Results indicate that variability in winter mean 700-Hpa height anomalies accounts for a statistically significant portion of the temporal variability in annual streamflow in the western United States. In general, above-average annual streamflow is associated with negative winter mean 700-Hpa height anomalies over the eastern North Pacific Ocean and/or the western United States. The anomalies produce an anomalous flow of moist air from the eastern North Pacific Ocean into the western United States that increases winter precipitation and snowpack accumulations, and subsequently streamflow. Winter mean 700-hPa height anomalies also account for statistically significant differences in spatial distributions of annual streamflow. As part of this study, winter mean atmospheric circulation patterns for the 40 years analysed were classified into five winter mean 700-hPa height anomaly patterns. These patterns are related to statistically significant and physically meaningful differences in spatial distributions of annual streamflow.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of winter atmospheric circulation on temporal and spatial variability in annual streamflow in the western United States
Hydrological Sciences Journal/Journal des Sciences Hydrologiques