California Water Science Center

Hydrologic Extremes

Drought

The USGS monitors the effects of drought through data collection and research of long-term hydrologic, climatic, and environmental changes. These studies support successful planning and science-based decision-making by water managers who must address complex issues and competing interests in times of drought. They also and help decision-makers prepare for climate change and possible future drought.

Flooding

The USGS maintains a network of nearly 500 streamgages in California that delivers a continuous source of streamflow data. When water levels change rapidly, or reach flood-stage levels, flood-warning alerts are issued help emergency managers assess potential hazardous conditions near the gage or for downstream locations.

Wildfires

In an increasingly arid California landscape, wildfires pose significant threat to life, property, and air quality, and have long-term impacts on the state's water. Wildfire can significantly alter the hydrologic response of a watershed to the extent that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flow, and water quality within and downstream from a burn area may be significantly impacted.

California Flood Science

California Flood Science

The USGS California Water Science Center maintains nearly 500 streamgages that collect data to determine the amount of water flowing in rivers and streams in California to help emergency managers during floods and other water-related hazard events.

Flood Science >>

California Drought Science

California Drought Science

The USGS closely monitors the effects of drought through data collection and research, supporting successful planning and science-based decision-making by water managers who must address complex issues and competing interests in times of drought.

Drought Science >>

California Wildfire Science

California Wildfire Science

Wildfires pose considerable risks to water quality & quantity, which in turn affect water supplies, fisheries, & aquatic habitats. The USGS studies the effects past, current, & future wildfires have upon California's water resources.

Wildfire Science >>
Filter Total Items: 44
Date published: September 9, 2020
Status: Completed

Soil moisture datasets at five sites in the central Sierra Nevada and northern Coast Ranges, California

Soil moisture is a critical variable for understanding the impacts of drought on ecological, hydrological, and agricultural systems, as soil moisture content has a direct affect on runoff amounts. Runoff occurs as the result of precipitation (both rainfall and snowfall) that is in excess of the demands of evaporation from land surfaces, transpiration from vegetation, and infiltration into...

Contacts: Michelle Stern
Date published: June 17, 2019
Status: Active

Researching Climate Conditions for CAL FIRE Wildfire Restoration Efforts

In California, drought and warmer climates have increased the prevalence, severity, and duration of wildfires. These fires have destroyed over 129 million trees. In the aftermath of this devastation, there is heightened urgency to increase the capacity of seedling production, particularly for the lower-elevation and private lands that CAL FIRE is responsible to help manage. To support CAL FIRE...

Contacts: Michelle Stern
Date published: June 12, 2019
Status: Completed

Basin Characterization Model - Simulating Effects of Iowa Soil Management on Water Availability

As a result of climate change, heavy rainfall, as well as extended dry periods, are becoming more common in the Midwestern United States. These trends are only expected to continue. So, increasing the capacity of soil to store water has become more critical. Storing water increases availability in dry conditions. And the absorption of additional water in wet conditions reduces potential...

Date published: June 12, 2019
Status: Active

Land Subsidence in California

Extensive groundwater withdrawals from aquifer systems have caused land subsidence in many California basins. Land subsidence can cause infrastructure damage, not only to buildings and roads but also to water conveyence systems. Groundwater-level and land-subsidence monitoring provide the information needed to guide mitigation efforts and management of future effects.

Date published: June 11, 2019
Status: Completed

Characterizing the Influence of Fire on Hydrology in Southern California

The frequency of fire in southern California forests has steadily increased over time as a result of ignitions at the growing wildland-urban interface, as well as a result of warming due to climate change. Understanding the implications of increased wildfire on hydrologic conditions and water supply is particularly important given the increasing demands for water resources to satisfy growing...

Date published: February 4, 2019
Status: Completed

Estimates of soil water deficit during California drought, January 1, 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release

Because the following information has immediate and time-sensitive relevance to public health and welfare owing to the Governor's declared drought emergency it is being released as preliminary information. As preliminary information, it had been reviewed and approved to meet the needs for timely best science, but the methodology is subject to refinement. The information is provided on the...

Contacts: Debra Curry
Date published: February 1, 2019
Status: Completed

Characterization of Hydrologic Conditions for Species Distributions Along Environmental Gradients

Plant distributions at local to global scales are influenced by the interplay among plant traits (physiology, anatomy, morphology), the physical setting, biotic interactions, and historical factors such as disturbances and responses to past climate change. Physiological strategies and functional traits provide a key starting point to understand how distributions are shaped along gradients of...

Date published: January 31, 2019
Status: Completed

Climate and Natural Resources Analysis and Planning for California's Northern Coast

The North Coast Resource Partnership (NCRP) is an innovative, stakeholder-driven collaboration among local government, Tribes, watershed groups, and interested partners in the North Coast region of California. The North Coast comprises seven counties, Tribal lands, major watersheds, and a planning area of 19,390 square miles representing 12% of California's landscape. The NCRP integrates long-...

Date published: January 30, 2019
Status: Completed

Climate Ready Vulnerability Assessment

To create a framework for adapting to climate change, decision makers need to understand specific threats to our water supply, land use suitability, hazard risks, ecosystems and quality of life. A vulnerability assessment that defines the projected degree to which an ecosystem, landscape, or watershed is vulnerable to change will help to create this framework. Presently those who are open to...

Date published: January 30, 2019
Status: Completed

Coping with Drought in the Russian River Watershed

Drought in the Russian River region is keyed to the absence of large winter storms-the RR is winter rain-driven, with a few atmospheric river (AR) storms each year bringing 40-50% of the annual rainfall. Two multi-purpose reservoirs provide storage for warm-season uses, and there is little to no snow pack to extend the runoff season. The same ARs that provide beneficial water supply can also...

Date published: December 21, 2018
Status: Active

California Streamgage Information

To help emergency managers and others protect life and property due to floods and other water-related hazards, the USGS delivers a continuous source of streamflow information. The U.S. Geological Survey has been measuring streamflow in the U.S. for over 120 years. We operate more...

Date published: December 21, 2018
Status: Active

Salinas Valley Operational Model: Interlake Tunnel and San Antonio Spillway Modification Project

An operational model for Salinas Valley is needed to evaluate and compare ecosystem, conservation, and water demands. This model must simulate current operations, assess benefits of and evaluate scenarios for tunnel operation and potential reservoir and spillway modifications.

Contacts: Wesley Henson, Ph.D., Howard Franklin, Amy Woodrow