Identification of climate teleconnections and forecasting of the upper Truckee River

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Rapid development in eastern California and the Truckee Meadows (Reno) region of Nevada has resulted in an increased need for water. The primary water supply for the region is the Truckee River, which originates in the Sierra Mountains of California and Nevada and flows east until its terminus into Pyramid Lake. The Upper Truckee River Basin contributes the majority of runoff to the Truckee River. This is primarily due to higher precipitation (snowfall) in the Sierra Mountains and the resulting snowmelt during the spring-summer season. Currently, a spring-summer (April, May, June and July) forecast is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the Upper Truckee River station at Farad, California, considered the terminus (lower or downstream boundary) of the Upper Truckee River Basin. Water planners rely on this forecast, as well as other forecast models, to assist with water supply decisions. Cyclonic (frontal) storms that originate in the Pacific Ocean and move eastward account for the majority of wintertime precipitation (snowfall) in the western United States and the resulting spring-summer runoff. Seasonal averages of (a) persistence (previous season’s streamflow); (b) Pacific Ocean climate indices for climate patterns such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Pacific – North American index; and, (c) Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures will be examined for long lead-times (3 to 9 months in advance) and correlated with the spring-summer streamflow for the Truckee River at Farad, California. Based on the results of this analysis, the more highly correlated “predictors” will be used in a statistically based streamflow forecast methodology previously applied to watersheds in Australia and the United States.


Climate | Environmental Sciences | Meteorology | Water Resource Management


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