Changes in seasonality and timing of peak streamflow in snow and semi-arid climates of the north-central United States, 1910–2012

Hydrological Processes
By: , and 

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Abstract

Changes in the seasonality and timing of annual peak streamflow in the north-central USA are likely because of changes in precipitation and temperature regimes. A source of long-term information about flood events across the study area is the U.S. Geological Survey peak streamflow database. However, one challenge of answering climate-related questions with this dataset is that even in snowmelt-dominated areas, it is a mixed population of snowmelt/spring rain generated peaks and summer/fall rain generated peaks. Therefore, a process was developed to divide the annual peaks into two populations, or seasons, snowmelt/spring, and summer/fall. The two series were then tested for the hypotheses that because of changes in precipitation regimes, the odds of summer/fall peaks have increased and, because of temperature changes, snowmelt/spring peaks happen earlier. Over climatologically and geographically similar regions in the north-central USA, logistic regression was used to model the odds of getting a summer/fall peak. When controlling for antecedent wet and dry conditions and geographical differences, the odds of summer/fall peaks occurring have increased across the study area. With respect to timing within the seasons, trend analysis showed that in northern portions of the study region, snowmelt/spring peaks are occurring earlier. The timing of snowmelt/spring peaks in three regions in the northern part of the study area is earlier by 8.7– 14.3 days. These changes have implications for water interests, such as potential changes in lead-time for flood forecasting or changes in the operation of flood-control dams.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Changes in seasonality and timing of peak streamflow in snow and semi-arid climates of the north-central United States, 1910–2012
Series title Hydrological Processes
DOI 10.1002/hyp.10693
Volume 30
Issue 8
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Contributing office(s) North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1208
Last page 1218
Time Range Start 1910-01-01
Time Range End 2012-12-31
Country United States
State Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N