Development of Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) for the Kings River Basin, California, with application for streamflow predictability and flood forecasting

Science Center Objects

his study will provide an analysis tool for forecasting seasonal and longer term streamflow variations, and for evaluating climate and land cover variations in the Kings River Basin. This study will directly or indirectly address several water-resource issues identified in the USGS Science Strategy document (USGS, 2007): drinking water availability, the suitability of aquatic habitat for biota (by providing forecasted streamflow simulations), hydrologic hazards (flooding), hydrologic system management, and effects of climate on water resource management. This work will develop tools relevant to CAWSC science issues that underlie the management of watershed and hydrologic hazards, and address the USGS focus on climate change studies.

map showing the outline of Kings River Basin

Kings River Basin.

(Public domain.)

Snowmelt runoff in the Kings River Basin plays a significant part in the natural ecological and hydrologic system of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Sierra National Forest, and in operations of Pine Flat Dam. Dam releases play an important role in flood management, irrigation, domestic, municipal, and industrial uses down to the San Joaquin River. Existing models of the Kings cannot adequately describe responses to changing climate and land-use in the basin. Climate variations affect the elevation of snow accumulation, the timing and magnitude of streamflow, and spring melt. A better understanding of streamflow variation in this basin is necessary for improved reservoir operations and watershed management.

USGS will construct a Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) model along with an Object User Interface (OUI) for the Kings River Basin that will cover the watershed above the USGS stream gage, Kings River at Piedra (11222000). PRMS simulates responses to climate and land-use variations at a higher spatial resolution than currently available to DWR. Historical climate variations will be identified in streamflow, precipitation, and temperature records. The Kings PRMS will be used to test how the basin streamflow responds to historical and synthesized climate inputs.

This study will provide an analysis tool for forecasting seasonal and longer term streamflow variations, and for evaluating climate and land cover variations in the Kings River Basin. This study will directly or indirectly address several water-resource issues identified in the USGS Science Strategy document (USGS, 2007): drinking water availability, the suitability of aquatic habitat for biota (by providing forecasted streamflow simulations), hydrologic hazards (flooding), hydrologic system management, and effects of climate on water resource management. This work will develop tools relevant to CAWSC science issues that underlie the management of watershed and hydrologic hazards, and address the USGS focus on climate change studies.

Specific tasks are: 1) Identify simulation nodes. 2) Collect relevant spatial and temporal data (including natural streamflows to be used for calibrations), assemble and manage data in a GIS, and analyze data to understand the physical system of the watershed. 3) Construct the Kings PRMS model by delineating model area and hydrologic response units (HRUs), estimate parameters, and calibrate. 4) Build the object user interface (OUI), 5) Release the calibrated Kings PRMS and OUI to DWR for operational trials, and 6) assess the basin’s response to climate change utilizing the Kings PRMS.

The Kings PRMS, supporting GIS, and the Kings OUI will be constructed and transferred to the cooperator. The PRMS model and OUI will be documented in a USGS Scientific Investigations Report and archived according to established policy. GIS data will be documented in a USGS publication, such as a Data Series or Open File report. The climate change analysis will be documented in either a USGS publication or a journal article. USGS staff will provide periodic project updates to DWR staff. USGS staff will attend the annual California Cooperative Snow Survey CCSS meetings, the Western Snow Conference meetings and other related cooperator meetings in order to disseminate project information. USGS will also attend at least one national conference, present information and bring feedback to DWR. Near the completion of this project, the USGS will provide Kings PRMS training to DWR staff.