Hydroclimate in the San Juan Mountain Region of Colorado

Authors: Christopher Hancock*, University of Denver
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Water Resources and Hydrology, Mountain Environments
Keywords: Hydroclimate, Alpine, Snowpack, Streamflow, San Juan, Colorado
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download

This poster presents a statistical analysis of hydroclimatic variables in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. While precipitation is consistent year-round, winter snowpack accumulation exerts a particularly strong influence on the hydrographs of the region. The average date of maximum accumulation for the San Juan Mountains is April 1st with snowmelt representing a significant source of streamflow into July. Much of this flow ends up in the Uncompahgre and San Juan Rivers, both significant tributaries to the Colorado River, as well as into the Rio Grande. Understanding the variability and changes to this system is critical for downstream water managers, engineers, and environmentalists. Specifically for this project, precipitation, temperature, and snow water equivalent (SWE) measurements from 23 snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) sites are analyzed alongside daily discharge values from USGS stream gauges to understand the relationship between climate and streamflow in the region. Seasonal, interannual, and interdecadal trends are examined to assess the impact of climate change in the region. Particular emphasis is placed on peak discharge magnitude and timing as extrapolated from daily discharge data. This research provides a foundation for future work in the region.

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