Monthly temperature and precipitation data for 923 United States Geological Survey 8-digit hydrologic units are used as inputs to a monthly water balance model to compute monthly actual evapotranspiration, soil moisture storage, and runoff across the western United States (U.S.) for the period 1900 through 2020. Time series of these water balance variables are examined to characterize and explain the dry conditions across the western U.S. since the year 2000. Results indicate that although precipitation deficits account for most of the changes in actual evapotranspiration and runoff, increases in temperature primarily explain decreases in soil moisture storage. Specifically, temperature has been particularly impactful on the magnitude of negative departures of soil moisture storage during the spring (April through June) and summer (July through September) seasons. These effects on soil moisture may be particularly detrimental to agriculture in regions already stressed by drought such as the western U.S.
|Title||Water balance characterization of the early 21st century drought in the western United States|
|Authors||Gregory J. McCabe, David M. Wolock|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of the American Water Resources Association|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||WMA - Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division|