Evaluation of streamflow variability for the Wabash River in the Midwest, U.S. using tree rings

Authors: Brandon Strange*, Indiana University, Justin Maxwell, Indiana University, Scott Robeson, Indiana University, Grant Harley, University of Idaho
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: dendrochronology, streamflow, reconstruction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Improved understanding of the interannual variability of streamflow can provide water resource managers with valuable information for developing management strategies. In many parts of the United States, resource managers rely on streamflow records as short as 40 years. Tree rings are an increasingly valuable proxy of streamflow and have been used to extend the record of streamflow and better quantify its variability. Within the U.S., most tree-ring reconstructions of streamflow have been implemented in arid western basins. While more limited in number, streamflow reconstructions in eastern basins have also been shown to be effective. This research focuses on extending the record of streamflow variability of the Wabash River in the Midwestern U.S. using tree rings and represents one of the first attempts at evaluating the efficacy of streamflow reconstructions in the Midwest. Using tree-ring chronologies of multiple species, we reconstructed June-September streamflow of the Wabash River with multiple reconstruction approaches. We find that the customary approach, using tree-ring chronologies within the drainage basin as predictors, produces a model that captures ~60% of the variance for the instrumental record of streamflow. In addition, we compare the customary approach to other recently developed methods that use large-scale spatial fields of precipitation or reconstructed PDSI to reconstruct streamflow. The overarching goals of this research are to better understand the long-term variability of the Wabash River by extending its instrumental record and determining the efficacy of recently developed approaches to reconstructing streamflow in the Midwest.

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