Water-resource managers need to forecast streamflow in the Lower Colorado River Basin to plan for water-resource projects and to operate reservoirs for water supply. Statistical forecasts of streamflow based on historical records of streamflow can be useful, but statistical assumptions, such as stationarity of flows, need to be evaluated. This study evaluated the relation between climatic fluctuations and stationarity and developed regression equations to forecast streamflow by using climatic fluctuations as explanatory variables. Climatic fluctuations were represented by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). Historical streamflow within the 25- to 30-year positive or negative phases of AMO or PDO was generally stationary. Monotonic trends in annual mean flows were tested at the 21 sites evaluated in this study; 76% of the sites had no significant trends within phases of AMO and 86% of the sites had no significant trends within phases of PDO. As climatic phases shifted in signs, however, many sites had nonstationary flows; 67% of the sites had significant changes in annual mean flow as AMO shifted in signs. The regression equations developed in this study to forecast streamflow incorporate these shifts in climate and streamflow, thus that source of nonstationarity is accounted for. The R 2 value of regression equations that forecast individual years of annual flow for the central part of the study area ranged from 0.28 to 0.49 and averaged 0.39. AMO was the most significant variable, and a combination of indices from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans explained much more variation in flows than only the Pacific Ocean indices. The average R2 value for equations with PDO and SOI was 0.15. ?? 2007 American Water Resources Association.
Additional Publication Details
Climatic fluctuations and forecasting of streamflow in the lower Colorado River Basin
Journal of the American Water Resources Association