This report presents a framework for a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic climate-response program designed to provide early warning of changes in the seasonal water cycle of Maine. Climate-related hydrologic changes on Maine's rivers and lakes in the winter and spring during the last century are well documented, and several river and lake variables have been shown to be sensitive to air-temperature changes. Monitoring of relevant hydrologic data would provide important baseline information against which future climate change can be measured.
The framework of the hydrologic climate-response program presented here consists of four major parts: (1) identifying homogeneous climate-response regions; (2) identifying hydrologic components and key variables of those components that would be included in a hydrologic climate-response data network - as an example, streamflow has been identified as a primary component, with a key variable of streamflow being winter-spring streamflow timing; the data network would be created by maintaining existing USGS data-collection stations and establishing new ones to fill data gaps; (3) regularly updating historical trends of hydrologic data network variables; and (4) establishing basins for process-based studies.
Components proposed for inclusion in the hydrologic climate-response data network have at least one key variable for which substantial historical data are available. The proposed components are streamflow, lake ice, river ice, snowpack, and groundwater. The proposed key variables of each component have extensive historical data at multiple sites and are expected to be responsive to climate change in the next few decades. These variables are also important for human water use and (or) ecosystem function.
Maine would be divided into seven climate-response regions that follow major river-basin boundaries (basins subdivided to hydrologic units with 8-digit codes or larger) and have relatively homogeneous climates. Key hydrologic variables within each climate-response region would be analyzed regularly to maintain up-to-date analyses of year-to-year variability, decadal variability, and longer term trends. Finally, one basin in each climate-response region would be identified for process-based hydrologic and ecological studies.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Framework for a U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Climate-Response Program in Maine