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Daily-to-weekly discharge during the snowmelt season is highly correlated among river basins in the upper elevations of the central and southern Sierra Nevada (Carson, Walker, Tuolumne, Merced, San Joaquin, Kings, and Kern Rivers). In many cases, the upper Sierra Nevada watershed operates in a single mode (with varying catchment amplitudes). In some years, with appropriate lags, this mode extends to distant mountains. A reason for this coherence is the broad scale nature of synoptic features in atmospheric circulation, which provide anomalous insolation and temperature forcings that span a large region, sometimes the entire western U.S. These correlations may fall off dramatically, however, in dry years when the snowpack is spatially patchy.
Additional Publication Details
An organized signal in snowmelt runoff over the western United States
Journal of the American Water Resources Association