Streamflows in undeveloped watersheds are influenced by climatic changes while highly developed ones are also influenced by changes such as urbanization
This project will improve understanding of historical hydrologic extremes in the United States through analysis of historical trends and relations with climatic variables (such as temperature and precipitation) and variables indicative of direct human influence on extreme streamflows (such as urbanization and streamflow reservoir regulation). The current focus of the project is to put extreme high streamflow trends in the United States into a better temporal and spatial context by examining historical climate-related changes in the frequency of major floods in North America and Europe. Following this, the project will concentrate on quantifying climatic and direct human influences on both high and low extreme streamflow trends in the United States.
Why is this research important?
It is critical to better understand how both climatic changes and direct human influence such as land-use change affect the magnitude of extreme flow trends. Extreme high flows can be very damaging to river and floodplain infrastructure. Extreme low flows can be detrimental to human water use and aquatic habitat. Based on previous work it is clear that both climatic and direct human factors are important to extreme flows, however, there has been very little quantitative analysis of how these joint influences affect trends over time at the regional or national level in the United States.