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A frequently encountered difficulty in assessing model-predicted land–atmosphere exchanges of moisture and energy is the absence of comprehensive observations to which model predictions can be compared at the spatial and temporal resolutions at which the models operate. Various methods have been used to evaluate the land surface schemes in coupled models, including comparisons of model-predicted evapotranspiration with values derived from atmospheric water balances, comparison of model-predicted energy and radiative fluxes with tower measurements during periods of intensive observations, comparison of model-predicted runoff with observed streamflow, and comparison of model predictions of soil moisture with spatial...
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This article applies formal detection and attribution techniques to investigate the nature of observed shifts in the timing of streamflow in the western United States. Previous studies have shown that the snow hydrology of the western United States has changed in the second half of the twentieth century. Such changes manifest themselves in the form of more rain and less snow, in reductions in the snow water contents, and in earlier snowmelt and associated advances in streamflow ?center? timing (the day in the ?water-year? on average when half the water-year flow at a point has passed). However, with one exception over a more limited domain, no other study has attempted to formally attribute these changes to anthropogenic...
Ecological responses to climatic variability in the Southwest include regionally synchronized fires, insect outbreaks, and pulses in tree demography (births and deaths). Multicentury, tree-ring reconstructions of drought, disturbance history, and tree demography reveal climatic effects across scales, from annual to decadal, and from local (<102 km2) to mesoscale (104–106 km2). Climate–disturbance relations are more variable and complex than previously assumed. During the past three centuries, mesoscale outbreaks of the western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis) were associated with wet, not dry episodes, contrary to conventional wisdom. Regional fires occur during extreme droughts but, in some ecosystems,...
A tree-ring-based reconstruction for 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE) is generated for the Gunnison River basin region in western Colorado. The reconstruction explains 63% of the variance in the instrumental record and extends from 1569 to 1999. When the twentieth-century part of the record is compared to the full record, the variability and extremes in the twentieth century appear representative of the long-term record. However, years of extreme SWE (low and high) and persistent low SWE events are not evenly distributed throughout the record. The twentieth century is notable for several periods that lack extreme years, and along with the nineteenth century and the second half of the eighteenth century, contains...
River systems in semiarid regions are susceptible to rapid and dramatic channel erosion and arroyo formation. Climate plays an important role in arroyo development through changes in precipitation intensity, seasonality, and variability. Here, trends in precipitation and streamflow at the annual, monthly, and daily timescales for the last 50 yr are analyzed for the Rio Puerco Basin in northwestern New Mexico, and connections with recent watershed and channel changes are examined. The increasing trend in annual precipitation in the basin is shown to be part of larger-scale climatic variability that affects the U.S. Southwest region, which is associated with climatic anomalies in the northern Pacific. Results of hydroclimatic...
Time series of seasonal-, monthly, and pentad-mean precipitation are subjected to empirical orthogonal function analysis, regression analysis, and compositing techniques to study the principal modes of interannual and intraseasonal variability of the North American Monsoon System (NAMS). The leading principal component (PC) from the summertime seasonal-mean data is associated with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability while the leading PC from the pentad-mean data is associated with 30–60-day intraseasonal (Madden–Julian) oscillations (MJOs). The leading PC from the monthly mean data is a hybrid of the two above-mentioned modes, capturing aspects of both. The leading PCs are used as reference time...
Trends in the timing of snowmelt and associated runoff in Colorado were evaluated for the 1978?2007 water years using the regional Kendall test (RKT) on daily snow-water equivalent (SWE) data from snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) sites and daily streamflow data from headwater streams. The RKT is a robust, nonparametric test that provides an increased power of trend detection by grouping data from multiple sites within a given geographic region. The RKT analyses indicated strong, pervasive trends in snowmelt and streamflow timing, which have shifted toward earlier in the year by a median of 2?3 weeks over the 29-yr study period. In contrast, relatively few statistically significant trends were detected using simple linear...
The water resources of the western United States depend heavily on snowpack to store part of the wintertime precipitation into the drier summer months. A well-documented shift toward earlier runoff in recent decades has been attributed to 1) more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow and 2) earlier snowmelt. The present study addresses the former, documenting a regional trend toward smaller ratios of winter-total snowfall water equivalent (SFE) to winter-total precipitation (P) during the period 1949?2004. The trends toward reduced SFE are a response to warming across the region, with the most significant reductions occurring where winter wet-day minimum temperatures, averaged over the study period, were...
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A physically based hydrology model is used to produce time series for the period 1916–2003 of evapotranspiration (ET), runoff, and soil moisture (SM) over the western United States from which long-term trends are evaluated. The results show that trends in ET in spring and summer are determined primarily by trends in precipitation and snowmelt that determine water availability. From April to June, ET trends are mostly positive due primarily to earlier snowmelt and earlier emergence of snow-free ground, and secondarily to increasing trends in spring precipitation. From July to September trends in ET are more strongly influenced by precipitation trends, with the exception of areas (most notably California) that receive...
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Recent studies have shown substantial declines in snow water equivalent (SWE) over much of the western United States in the last half century, as well as trends toward earlier spring snowmelt and peak spring streamflows. These trends are influenced both by interannual and decadal-scale climate variability, and also by temperature trends at longer time scales that are generally consistent with observations of global warming over the twentieth century. In this study, the linear trends in 1 April SWE over the western United States are examined, as simulated by the Variable Infiltration Capacity hydrologic model implemented at 1/8° latitude–longitude spatial resolution, and driven by a carefully quality controlled...
Drought is the most economically expensive recurring natural disaster to strike North America in modern times. Recently available gridded drought reconstructions have been developed for most of North America from a network of drought-sensitive tree-ring chronologies, many of which span the last 1000 yr. These reconstructions enable the authors to put the famous droughts of the instrumental record (i.e., the 1930s Dust Bowl and the 1950s Southwest droughts) into the context of 1000 yr of natural drought variability on the continent. We can now, with this remarkable new record, examine the severity, persistence, spatial signatures, and frequencies of drought variability over the past milllennium, and how these have...
A statistical model based on canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was used to explore climatic associations and predictability of June-August (JJA) maximum and minimum surface air temperatures (Tmax and Tmin) as well as the frequency of Tmax daily extremes (Tmax90) in the central and western United States (west of 90 degrees W). Explanatory variables are monthly and seasonal Pacific Ocean SST (PSST) and the Climate Division Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during 1950-2001. Although there is a positive correlation between Tmax and Tmin, the two variables exhibit somewhat different patterns and dynamics. Both exhibit their lowest levels of variability in summer, but that of Tmax is greater than Tmin. The predictability...


    map background search result map search result map Detection and Attribution of Streamflow Timing Changes to Climate Change in the Western United States Twentieth-Century Trends in Runoff, Evapotranspiration, and Soil Moisture in the Western United States Effects of Temperature and Precipitation Variability on Snowpack Trends in the Western United States* Twentieth-Century Trends in Runoff, Evapotranspiration, and Soil Moisture in the Western United States Effects of Temperature and Precipitation Variability on Snowpack Trends in the Western United States* Detection and Attribution of Streamflow Timing Changes to Climate Change in the Western United States