Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Glenn A. Tootle

Committee Members

John Schwartz, Henri Grissino-Mayer, Randy Gentry

Abstract

Water managers throughout the world are challenged with managing scarce resources and therefore rely heavily on forecasts to allocate and meet various water demands. The need for improved streamflow and snowpack forecast models is of the utmost importance. In this research, the use of oceanic and atmospheric variables as predictors was investigated to improve the long lead-time (three to nine months) forecast of streamflow and snowpack. Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) analysis was used to identify a region of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean SSTs and a region of 500 mbar geopotential height (Z500mb) that were teleconnected with streamflow and snowpack. The resulting Pacific and Atlantic Ocean SSTs and Z500mb regions were used to create indices that were then used as predictors in a non-parametric forecasting model. The majority of forecasts resulted in positive statistical skill, which indicated an improvement of the forecast over the climatology or no-skill forecast. The results indicated that derived indices from SSTs were better suited for long lead-time (six to nine month) forecasts of streamflow and snowpack while the indices derived from Z500mb improved short lead-time (3 month) forecasts. In all, the results of the forecast model indicated that incorporating oceanic-atmospheric climatic variability in forecast models can lead to improved forecasts for both streamflow and snowpack.

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