Variability of low flow magnitudes in the Upper Colorado River Basin: identifying trends and relative role of large-scale climate dynamics

M. Pournasiri Poshtiri, I. Pal
2014 Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Low flow magnitude in a head water basin is important for planners because minimum available amount of water in a given time period often leads to concerns regarding serious repercussions, in both up and downstream regions. This is a common scenario in arid region like Colorado River basin located in the southwestern US. Low flow variability in Colorado River is due to complex interactions between several natural and anthropogenic factors; but we aim to identify
more » ... aim to identify the relative role of climate on varying low flow magnitudes at different spatial locations. The research questions we aim to answer are: <i>Is there a systematic variability in water availability during the driest time of a year or season? How does that vary across locations and is there a link between large-scale climate and low flow variations?</i> Towards that aim we select 17 stream gauge locations, which are identified as "undisturbed" meaning that these stations represent near-natural river flow regimes in the headwater region of Colorado River, which provides a useful resource for assessment of climate and hydrology associations without the confounding factor of major direct (e.g. water abstraction) or indirect (e.g. land-use change) human modification of flows. A detailed diagnostic analysis gives us fair understanding on the variability of low flow magnitude that is explained by climate. We also present spatial heterogeneity of hydro-climatological linkages that is important for suitable adaptive management measures.</p>
doi:10.5194/hessd-11-8779-2014 fatcat:4tvzvcl2yzdy7nj6um6a5fa4da