Multi-Decadal Streamflow Reconstruction of the Upper Samalá River Basin, Guatemala

Authors: Diego Pons*, University Of Denver
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Latin America, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Streamflow reconstruction,Tree-ring chronologies,ENSO, Droughts, Floods
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Samalá River basin in Guatemala is critical for vegetable and maize production as well as for hydroelectric power generation. It also has one of the highest incidences of natural disasters in the country associated with hydrological extremes. It is home to more than a hundred settlements including cities, towns, villages and agricultural land. Samala‚Äôs streamflow record, only 37 years in length (1979-2016), is too short to assess the full range of hydrological variability in this important region. This paper presents a tree-ring based reconstruction of mean August-September streamflow for 124 years (CE 1889-2013). Results suggest that total tree-ring widths measurements from Abies guatemalensis are correlated with monthly accumulated streamflow measurements in the upper Samalá River basin. This association is modulated in part by the variability in the ENSO 3.4 region in the Pacific Ocean suggesting lower streamflow and decreased cambial activity during the warm events. The reconstruction suggests that single year events of low streamflow dominate the record yet, periods of 9 years below-average streamflow can persist. Likewise, single year pluvial events also dominate the evaluated period. Overall, this new information can provide useful inputs that can be used by stakeholders and decision-makers within the Samalá watershed regarding the management of water for irrigation, power production and disaster mitigation.

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