Interannual streamflow variability in the United States based on principal components

Water Resources Research



Interannual modes of streamflow variation at 106 locations across the United States during the period 1931–1978 are defined by using principal components. Five statistically significant components are found to account for more than 56% of the total streamflow variance. The first principal component represents a nationwide tendency for either above- or below-mean streamflow. The second component represents a north-south opposition in departures from mean flow, and the third, an east-west opposition. Higher-order components (fourth and fifth) geographically depict regional patterns of opposition in the sign of streamflow departures between coastal-continental areas and between the northern and southern plains, respectively. Analyses using spatially and temporally modified data sets indicate that the first three components (which explain 45% of the variance) are quite stable spatially, while only the first component is stable temporally. Time series analysis of principal component scores indicates that all but the fourth component are first-order autoregressive processes, as is mean annual nationwide streamflow. The fourth component is an autoregressive (AR)(2) process. In general, the principal components of streamflow are found to exhibit more persistence over annual time scales than the mean annual flow data themselves.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Interannual streamflow variability in the United States based on principal components
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/WR021i005p00691
Volume 21
Issue 5
Year Published 1985
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Description 11 p.
First page 691
Last page 701
Country United States
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