Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016ND308B

Effects of Climate Change, Agricultural Land Use Change, and Dynamic Contributing Area on Streamflow Input to Devils Lake: A Case Study of the Mauvais Coulee Sub-Basin

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $3,000

Principal Investigators: Paul Todhunter

Abstract: Flooding is the most common, pervasive, and damaging natural hazard in the United States. Flood damages have been increasing in frequency and magnitude over the past few decades, producing substantial emotional and physical impacts. Multiple factors influence flood risk, including natural climate variability, anthropogenic climate change, human modification of land use hydrology, and human occupation of and encroachment onto floodplains. Flooding in the Devils Lake Basin of North Dakota is an especially unique flood hazard, resulting in over $1 Billion USD in direct flood damages, and presenting a pervasive flood hazard within a unique closed basin hydrological system. Considerable research has shown that runoff volume is sensitive to both climate variability and agricultural land use changes, but the relative contribution of these drivers of hydrological change have not been investigated in the Devils Lake Basin. The objectives of this study are: 1) To construct a historical time series of agricultural land use for the Mauvais Coulee sub-basin to quantify land use change as a driver of streamflow variations; 2) To compile a monthly hydroclimatic database for the Mauvais Coulee of areal precipitation depth (mm), mean monthly streamflow (cms), runoff depth (mm), and runoff ratio (%); 3) To determine the non-contributing area of wetland complexes in the Mauvais Coulee sub-basin using GIS technology and LiDAR and 30-m resolution DEMs; and 4) To quantify the relationship between areal precipitation, runoff depth, runoff ratio, and agricultural land use for the period of historical record for the Mauvais Coulee sub-basin using an appropriate statistical, ecohydrological, and/or physically-based modeling approach.