Forecasting of lower Colorado River Basin streamflow using Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures and ENSO

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Conference Proceeding

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The lower Colorado River basin is located in an area of known El Nino-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 Nino, La Nina 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 leadtimes 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.


Colorado River; Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO); Forcasting; Ocean water; River basins; Streamflow; Water temperature


Climate | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies




Proceedings of the Arid Lands Symposium, June 26 - July 1, 2004, Salt Lake City, Utah, American Society of Civil Engineers, Washington D.C.
Presented at: Arid Lands Symposium, June 26 - July 1, 2004, Salt Lake City, Utah. (INVITED)


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