(Water Management, Conservation of Natural Resources)
Water resource planning is based primarily on 20th century instrumental records of climate and streamflow. These records are limited in length to approximately 100 years, in the best cases, and can reflect only a portion of the range of natural variability. The instrumental record neither can be used to gage the unusualness of 20th Century extreme low flow events, nor does it allow the detection of low-frequency variability that may underlie short-term variations in flow. In this study, tree rings are used to reconstruct mean annual streamflow for Middle Boulder Creek in the Colorado Front Range, a semi-arid region of rapid growth and development. The reconstruction is based on a stepwise regression equation that accounts for 70 percent of the variance in the instrumental record, and extends from 1703–1987. The reconstruction suggests that the instrumental record of streamflow for Middle Boulder Creek is not representative of flow in past centuries and that several low flow events in the 19th century were more persistent than any in the 20th century. The 1840s to early 1850s period of low flow is a particularly notable event and may have coincided with a period of low flow in the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Link: doi: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2001.tb05493.x
Woodhouse, C. (2001).
Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 37:3, 561-569.