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A new approach to streamflow reconstructions in complex, non-arid river basins: a case study for the Fraser River, B.C., Canada

Authors: Rebecca Brice*, University of Arizona, Bethany Coulthard, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Kevin Anchukaitis, University of Arizona, Inga Homfeld, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Topics: Physical Geography, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: dendrohydrology, Fraser River Basin, Canada, streamflow extremes
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Dendrohydology has traditionally been applied in large semiarid watersheds with long concentration times, where water-year runoff is a scientifically feasible ⎯ and socially and ecologically meaningful ⎯ target for streamflow reconstruction. A new paradigm is converging in dendrohydrology, however, as climate change-attributed hydroclimatic shifts modify contributions to runoff in more complex river basins across western North America.

This talk describes a case study and new approach to large, complex basin reconstruction. the Fraser River Basin, an ecologically and commercially critical watershed draining much of British Columbia, Canada. This unempounded and fast-draining system is experiencing both worsening spring floods and late summer droughts as a result of climate change, but its variable terrain and hydroclimate means this watershed cannot be reconstructed using traditional tree-ring methods. Here, we present a novel reconstruction approach that targets seasonal runoff and extremes (flood, drought) in a large watershed. Our preliminary results suggest that the natural (pre-instrumental) range of variability in flood and drought extremes surpasses instrumental data benchmarks currently used for Fraser Basin water management.

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