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Simulation of streamflow in the Pleasant, Narraguagus, Sheepscot, and Royal Rivers, Maine, using watershed models

March 10, 2011

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began a study in 2008 to investigate anticipated changes in summer streamflows and stream temperatures in four coastal Maine river basins and the potential effects of those changes on populations of endangered Atlantic salmon. To achieve this purpose, it was necessary to characterize the quantity and timing of streamflow in these rivers by developing and evaluating a distributed-parameter watershed model for a part of each river basin by using the USGS Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). The GIS (geographic information system) Weasel, a USGS software application, was used to delineate the four study basins and their many subbasins, and to derive parameters for their geographic features. The models were calibrated using a four-step optimization procedure in which model output was evaluated against four datasets for calibrating solar radiation, potential evapotranspiration, annual and seasonal water balances, and daily streamflows. The calibration procedure involved thousands of model runs that used the USGS software application Luca (Let us calibrate). Luca uses the Shuffled Complex Evolution (SCE) global search algorithm to calibrate the model parameters. The calibrated watershed models performed satisfactorily, in that Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) statistic values for the calibration periods ranged from 0.59 to 0.75 (on a scale of negative infinity to 1) and NSE statistic values for the evaluation periods ranged from 0.55 to 0.73. The calibrated watershed models simulate daily streamflow at many locations in each study basin. These models enable natural resources managers to characterize the timing and amount of streamflow in order to support a variety of water-resources efforts including water-quality calculations, assessments of water use, modeling of population dynamics and migration of Atlantic salmon, modeling and assessment of habitat, and simulation of anticipated changes to streamflow and water temperature resulting from changes forecast for air temperature and precipitation.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Simulation of streamflow in the Pleasant, Narraguagus, Sheepscot, and Royal Rivers, Maine, using watershed models
DOI 10.3133/sir20105221
Authors Robert W. Dudley, Martha G. Nielsen
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5221
Index ID sir20105221
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Maine Water Science Center