Baseflow and precipitation in the Kickapoo River Watershed, located in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, exhibit a step increase around 1970, similar to minimum and median flows in many other central and eastern USA streams. Potential effects on streamflow due to climatic and land management changes were evaluated by comparing volumetric changes in the hydrologic budget before and after 1970. Increases in precipitation do not fully account for the increase in baseflow, which appears to be offset by a volumetric decrease in stormflow. This suggests that factors that influence the partitioning of precipitation into overland runoff or infiltration have changed. A transition from relatively more intensive to relatively less intensive agricultural land use is generally associated with higher infiltration rates, and likely influences partitioning of flow. Changes in agricultural land management practices in the Driftless Area, which began in the mid-1930s, do not coincide with the abrupt increase in baseflow around 1970. Instead, the timing of hydrologic change appears to coincide with changes in precipitation, whereas the magnitude of the change in baseflow and stormflow was likely amplified by changes in agricultural land management. ?? 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Effects of climate and land management change on streamflow in the driftless area of Wisconsin