Changes in the magnitude of annual and monthly streamflows in New England, 1902-2002

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5135




Selected annual and monthly streamflow statistics for 27 streamflow-gaging stations in New England were computed and tested for changes over time. These 27 stations were considered to be free of substantial human influences such as regulation, diversion, and land use-changes and have an average of 71 years of record. The longest streamflow record extended from 1902 to 2002. March mean streamflows increased significantly over time (Mann-Kendall test, p < 0.1) at 14 streamflow-gaging stations in northern New England, primarily in northern or mountainous sections of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. March mean flows increased by 76 to 185 percent at the seven stations with the longest continuous records in areas of New England with the largest seasonal snowpack depths. These streamflow-gaging stations had continuous records from the late 1920's and the early 1930s through 2002. May mean streamflows significantly decreased at 10 stations in northern or mountainous sections of Maine and New Hampshire. May mean flows decreased by 9 to 46 percent at the seven stations with the longest continuous records. Despite the fact that March percentage increases were much larger than May percentage decreases, March streamflow increases (in cubic feet per second) were smaller than May decreases, except at one streamflow-gaging station. Increased March and April air temperatures over time may have caused earlier snowmelt and thus increased streamflows in March and decreased streamflows in May. There were no significant changes over time in annual mean streamflows at the 27 stations; however, there were significant increases over time in various annual percentile streamflows (minimum, 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile, or maximum flows) at 22 of the stations. This indicates that flows increased over time at many streams in New England, but the increase was not enough to have caused significant changes in annual mean flows. October mean streamflows increased significantly at five stations in western New England. December minimum streamflows increased significantly at 13 stations in northern and southern New England.

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USGS Numbered Series
Changes in the magnitude of annual and monthly streamflows in New England, 1902-2002
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Scientific Investigations Report
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44 p.