Forecasting of Lower Colorado River Basin Streamflow Using Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures and ENSO


G. Sehlke; D. F. Hayes; D. K. Stevens

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Critical Transitions in Water and Environmental Resources Management: Proceedings of the 2004 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress


American Society of Civil Engineers

First page number:


Last page number:



The lower Colorado River basin is located in an area of known El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) influence. A streamflow forecast is developed using Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) as predictors in addition to a traditional ENSO predictor, such as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). Significant regions of SST influence on streamflow were determined using linear correlations (LC). These significant SST regions are then used as predictors in a statistically based exceedance probability model previously applied to streamflow stations in Australia and the U.S. Long lead-time (3 and 6 month) streamflow forecasts were developed for El Niño, La Niña and non-ENSO years for the winter-spring (January-February-March — JFM) season. The use of the SSTs resulted in improved forecasts, based on cross-validated skill scores, when compared to forecasts using the SOI. Additionally, forecast lead-times were increased when using the SSTs as predictors due to the inability of the SOI to provide an acceptable forecast. Also, the use of SSTs provided an improved forecast for all lead times for non-ENSO seasons when compared to the SOI forecasts. Following the methodology presented, water resource planners in ENSO influenced areas are provided a useful tool for forecasting streamflow.


Streamflow; Streamflow--Forecasting


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Civil Engineering | Environmental Engineering | Environmental Sciences




Conference held: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, June 27-July 1, 2004


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