Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Glenn A. Tootle

Committee Members

John Schwartz, Randy Gentry, Henri Grissino-Mayer

Abstract

Uncertainties were analyzed in three areas (remote sensing, dendroclimatology, and climate modeling) relevant to current water resources management. First, the research investigated the relationships between remotely sensed and in situ Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) datasets in three western U.S. basins. Agreement between SWE products was found to increase in lower elevation areas and later in the snowpack season. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) revealed two distinct snow regions among the datasets and Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) was used to link both data products with regional streamflow. Remotely sensed SWE was found to be sufficient to use in statistically based forecast models in which magnitude did not affect results. Second, the research investigated the dendroclimatic potential of a critical flood control and hydropower region in the southeastern U.S. (Tennessee Valley) using climate division precipitation and regional tree-ring chronology datasets. Tennessee Valley May–July precipitation was reconstructed from 1692 to 1980 (289 years) using a stepwise linear regression model (R2 = 0.56). Weibull analysis illustrated that the Tennessee Valley reconstruction model developed generally underestimated extreme precipitation and overestimated average precipitation. The longest May–July drought occurred over 10 consecutive years (1827–1836). Instrumental records indicated that the two most recent droughts (1985–1988 and 2006–2008) ranked second and third in severity in the past three centuries. Third, past, present, and future patterns and extremes in streamflow within the North Platte River Basin were investigated. A streamflow reconstruction dating back to 1383 using tree rings was created to provide a proxy for the long-term variability in the region. Projected streamflow datasets from the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) were gathered to acquire future insight of the hydroclimatic variability within the North Platte River Basin (NRPB). Drought analysis revealed that 2002–2008 was one of the driest periods in the past 600 years. Multiple CCSM projections suggest that in the future, drier (5th percentile) years will become wetter relative to 1970–1999 CCSM hindcasts. Future average (50th percentile) and wet (95th percentile) years may yield statistically higher streamflow compared to those seen in the historical (1383–1999) record, suggesting potential anthropogenic influence beyond the historic natural variability.

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