Streamflow drought is a recurring challenge, and understanding spatiotemporal patterns of past droughts is needed to manage future water resources. We examined regional patterns in streamflow drought metrics and compared these metrics to low flow timing and magnitude using long-term daily records for 555 minimally disturbed watersheds. For each streamgage, we calculated streamflow drought duration (number of days) and deficit (flow volume below a specified threshold) for each climate year (April 1–March 31). We identified drought using five thresholds (2%–30%) and two approaches: variable thresholds with unique values for each day of the year, and a fixed threshold based on all period-of-record flows. We then analyzed drought trends using the Mann-Kendall test with persistence adjustment for 1921–2020, 1951–2020, and 1981–2020, and computed correlations between annual streamflow drought metrics and climate metrics using values from a monthly water balance model. Spatial patterns in drought metrics were consistent between variable and fixed approaches, though fixed threshold durations were typically longer and variable threshold deficits larger. High interannual variability in drought duration emerged in the central, interior west, and southwestern U.S., with high deficit variability in the interior west. Drought metrics were weakly correlated with low flow magnitude and timing, providing unique information. Drought duration and deficit increased in the southern and western U.S. for both 1951–2020 and 1981–2020, particularly using fixed thresholds, and paralleled trends in aridity. Projections of continued aridification for the southern and western U.S. may increase drought durations and deficits and intensify water availability impacts.
|Title||Going beyond low flows: Streamflow drought deficit and duration illuminate distinct spatiotemporal drought patterns and trends in the U.S. during the last century|
|Authors||John C. Hammond, Caelan E. Simeone, Jory Seth Hecht, Glenn A. Hodgkins, Melissa Lombard, Gregory J. McCabe, David M. Wolock, Michael Wieczorek, Carolyn G Olson, Todd Caldwell, Robert W. Dudley, Adam N. Price|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Water Resources Research|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Water Science Center|