Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-581
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
29 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Wetlands inform how climate extremes influence surface water expansion and contraction
Melanie K. Vanderhoof1, Charles R. Lane2, Michael G. McManus3, Laurie C. Alexander4, and Jay R. Christensen5 1U.S. Geological Survey, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, P.O. Box 25046, DFC, MS980, Denver, CO 80225
2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, 26 W. Martin Luther King Dr., MS-642, Cincinnati, OH 45268
3U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, 26 W. Martin Luther King Dr., MS-A110, Cincinnati, OH 45268
4U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (8623-P), Washington, DC 20460
5U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Environmental Science Division, 944 E. Harmon Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89119
Abstract. Effective monitoring and prediction of flood and drought events requires an improved understanding of how and why surface-water expansion and contraction in response to climate varies across space. This paper sought to (1) quantify how interannual patterns of surface-water expansion and contraction vary spatially across the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) and adjacent Northern Prairie (NP) in the United States, and (2) explore how landscape characteristics influence the relationship between climate inputs and surface-water dynamics. Due to differences in glacial history, the PPR and NP show distinct patterns in regards to drainage development and wetland density, together providing a diversity of conditions to examine surface-water dynamics. We used Landsat imagery to characterize variability in surface-water extent across eleven Landsat path/rows representing the PPR and NP (images spanned 1985–2015). The PPR not only experienced a 2.6-fold greater surface-water extent under median conditions relative to the NP, but also showed a 3.4-fold greater change in surface-water extent between drought and deluge conditions. The relationship between surface-water extent and accumulated water availability (precipitation minus potential evapotranspiration) was quantified per watershed and statistically related to variables representing hydrology-related landscape characteristics (e.g., infiltration capacity, surface storage capacity, stream density). To investigate the influence stream-connectivity has on the rate at which surface water leaves a given location, we modeled stream-connected and stream-disconnected surface water separately. Stream-connected surface water showed a greater expansion with wetter climatic conditions in landscapes with greater total wetland area. Disconnected surface water showed a greater expansion with wetter climatic conditions in landscapes with higher wetland density, lower infiltration and less anthropogenic drainage. From these findings, we can expect that shifts in precipitation and evaporative demand will have uneven effects on surface-water quantity. Accurate predictions regarding the effect of climate change on surface-water quantity will require consideration of hydrology-related landscape characteristics including wetlands.

Citation: Vanderhoof, M. K., Lane, C. R., McManus, M. G., Alexander, L. C., and Christensen, J. R.: Wetlands inform how climate extremes influence surface water expansion and contraction, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-581, in review, 2017.
Melanie K. Vanderhoof et al.
Melanie K. Vanderhoof et al.
Melanie K. Vanderhoof et al.

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Short summary
Effective monitoring and prediction of flood and drought events requires an improved understanding of surface-water dynamics. We examined how the relationship between surface-water extent, as mapped using Landsat imagery, and climate, is a function of landscape characteristics, using the Prairie Pothole Region and adjacent Northern Prairie in the United States as our study area. We found that at a landscape scale wetlands play a key role in informing how climate extremes influence surface-water.
Effective monitoring and prediction of flood and drought events requires an improved...
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