Relationships Between Oceanic-Atmospheric Patterns and Soil Moisture in the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Journal of Hydrology





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Soil moisture is an important drought index in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) and understanding its relationships with oceanic–atmospheric patterns provides valuable information for sustainable water management. To begin with, this study generated 50 years (1950–2000) of soil moisture data in the UCRB using the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model. This was followed by a temporal evaluation of Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) and soil moisture in the UCRB during drought, normal, and wet years. Besides in-phase analysis, lead time analysis was also performed in which the previous year’s SSTs were evaluated with the current year soil moisture. Furthermore, the Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) analysis revealed strong correlation between the first temporal expansion series of SSTs and soil moisture in the UCRB. Finally, this study examined the relationships between multiple oceanic–atmospheric patterns and soil moisture in the UCRB in drought, normal, and wet years. Both in-phase and lead time analyses indicated that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) strongly influenced soil moisture by displaying positive coupled regions (significance >95%). In drought and wet years, the lead time analysis showed a positive correlation between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and soil moisture but the in-phase analysis resulted in a negative correlation. The Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) displayed similar coupled regions for both in-phase and lead time analyses in drought and wet years. Understanding the relationships between soil moisture and oceanic–atmospheric patterns has increasingly important implications for the water resources management in the UCRB since soil moisture plays a key role in predicting the runoff and streamflow.


Drought; Oceanic–atmospheric patterns; Runoff; Runoff—Forecasting; Singular value decomposition; Soil moisture; Streamflow; Streamflow—Forecasting; Upper Colorado River Basin


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Earth Sciences | Engineering | Environmental Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Hydraulic Engineering | Hydrology




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