Ecosystem processes and human influences regulate streamflow response to climate change at long-term ecological research sites

Julia A. Jones, Irena F. Creed, Kendra L. Hatcher, Robert J. Warren, Mary Beth Adams, Melinda H. Benson, Emery Boose, Warren A. Brown, John L. Campbell, Alan Covich, David W. Clow, Clifford N. Dahm, Kelly Elder, Chelcy R. Ford, Nancy Grimm, Donald L. Henshaw, Kelli Larson, Evan S. Miles, Kathleen M. Miles, Stephen D. SebestyenAdam T. Spargo, Asa B. Stone, James M. Vose, Mark W. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations

Abstract

Analyses of long-term records at 35 headwater basins in the United States and Canada indicate that climate change effects on streamflow are not as clear as might be expected, perhaps because of ecosystem processes and human influences. Evapotranspiration was higher than was predicted by temperature in water-surplus ecosystems and lower than was predicted in water-deficit ecosystems. Streamflow was correlated with climate variability indices (e.g., the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation), especially in seasons when vegetation influences are limited. Air temperature increased significantly at 17 of the 19 sites with 20-to 60-year records, but streamflow trends were directly related to climate trends (through changes in ice and snow) at only 7 sites. Past and present human and natural disturbance, vegetation succession, and human water use can mimic, exacerbate, counteract, or mask the effects of climate change on streamflow, even in reference basins. Long-term ecological research sites are ideal places to disentangle these processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-404
Number of pages15
JournalBioScience
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

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Keywords

  • Budyko curve
  • precipitation/runoff ratio
  • socioecological systems
  • succession
  • trend

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Jones, J. A., Creed, I. F., Hatcher, K. L., Warren, R. J., Adams, M. B., Benson, M. H., Boose, E., Brown, W. A., Campbell, J. L., Covich, A., Clow, D. W., Dahm, C. N., Elder, K., Ford, C. R., Grimm, N., Henshaw, D. L., Larson, K., Miles, E. S., Miles, K. M., ... Williams, M. W. (2012). Ecosystem processes and human influences regulate streamflow response to climate change at long-term ecological research sites. BioScience, 62(4), 390-404. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2012.62.4.10