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Journal of Hydrometeorology





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Recent research has suggested that changes in temperature and precipitation events due to climate change have had a significant impact on the availability and timing of streamflow. In this study, monthly temperature and precipitation data collected over 29 climate divisions covering the entire Colorado River basin and monthly natural flow data from 29 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauge locations along the Colorado River are investigated for trend or step changes using parametric and nonparametric statistical tests. Temperature increases are persistent (at least 10 climate divisions over 6 months in trend analysis) throughout the year over the Colorado River basin, whereas precipitation only notably increased over 17 climate divisions (during trend analysis) during February and remained relatively unchanged otherwise. These results correspond with changes in naturalized streamflow throughout the year. Streamflow increases are recorded between November and February but exhibit a decreasing trend over the traditional peak runoff season (April through July). Under trend analysis, 18 flow stations exhibited increasing trends in January and 19 flow stations exhibited decreasing trends in June. It is likely that increasing temperature trends have affected the character of precipitation in the Colorado River basin, causing a change in the timing of runoff events.


Climate-change; Colorado River Basin; Hydrology; Increased temperature; Mountain snowpack; North America; Precipitation; Run-off timing; US streamflow; Variability; Water resources; Western United States


Climate | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies




© Copyright 2008 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or

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