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Data from: Trends and sensitivities of low streamflow extremes to discharge timing and magnitude in Pacific Northwest mountain streams

posted on 2024-02-13, 13:12 authored by Patrick R. Kormos, Charles H. Luce, Seth J. Wenger, Wouter R. Berghuijs

Path analyses of historical streamflow data from the Pacific Northwest indicate that the precipitation amount has been the dominant control on the magnitude of low streamflow extremes compared to the air temperature‐affected timing of snowmelt runoff. The relative sensitivities of low streamflow to precipitation and temperature changes have important implications for adaptation planning because global circulation models produce relatively robust estimates of air temperature changes but have large uncertainties in projected precipitation amounts in the Pacific Northwest U.S. Quantile regression analyses indicate that low streamflow extremes from the majority of catchments in this study have declined from 1948 to 2013, which may significantly affect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and water resource management. Trends in the 25th percentile of mean annual streamflow have declined and the center of timing has occurred earlier. We quantify the relative influences of total precipitation and air temperature on the annual low streamflow extremes from 42 stream gauges using mean annual streamflow as a proxy for precipitation amount effects and streamflow center of timing as a proxy for temperature effects on low flow metrics, including 7q10 summer (the minimum 7 day flow during summer with a 10 year return period), mean August, mean September, mean summer, 7q10 winter, and mean winter flow metrics. These methods have the benefit of using only readily available streamflow data, which makes our results robust against systematic errors in high elevation distributed precipitation data. Winter low flow metrics are weakly tied to both mean annual streamflow and center of timing.

Resources in this dataset:


National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NNX14AC91G


U.S. Department of Energy: DE‐AC05‐06OR23100


Data contact name

Kormos, Patrick

Data contact email


Water Resources Research

Intended use

To provide insights into the temperature and precipitation controls on extreme low streamflow in the Pacific Northwest. Specific objectives include (1) to explore trends in low flow indices, (2) to explore trends in mean annual streamflow and streamflow center of timing, and (3) to understand the relative role of precipitation and air temperature effects on low flows.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Pacific Northwest

ISO Topic Category

  • climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere
  • elevation
  • environment
  • farming
  • imageryBaseMapsEarthCover
  • inlandWaters
  • location

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

path analysis; stream flow; air; snowmelt; runoff; planning; models; uncertainty; United States; regression analysis; watersheds; aquatic ecosystems; water management; air temperature; streams; gauges; summer; winter; altitude; Washington (state); Idaho; Montana; Oregon; drought; hydrology; hydrologic models; Snowmelt Runoff Model; atmospheric precipitation

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 211

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Kormos, P. R., Luce, C. H., Wenger, S. J., & Berghuijs, W. R. (2016), Trends and sensitivities of low streamflow extremes to discharge timing and magnitude in Pacific Northwest mountain streams. Water Resour. Res., 52, 4990–5007.

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