Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020ND084B

Hydrological Changes Due to Recent Wetting in a Cold Region Riverine Headwaters Environment

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-29 End Date: 2021-02-27
Total Federal Funds: $1,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,000

Principal Investigators: Taufique Mahmood

Abstract: The watersheds of the Northern Great Plains (NGP) have experienced a cycle of extreme wet and dry periods over the last four decades due to the highly variable cold and semiarid continental climate. The influences of such extreme climate shifts on the cold region hydrologic cycle result in devastating effects such as drought and flooding. Since the mid-1980s, watersheds in the NGP have faced a large and abrupt surge in precipitation with a few occasional short dry periods resulting in elevated streamflow and subsequent flooding. Nevertheless, the impacts of the recent wetting on snow processes such as snow accumulation, blowing snow transport, in-transit sublimation, fill and spill hydrology, frozen soil infiltration and streamflow generation mechanisms in headwater catchments are poorly understood. In this study, we propose to utilize a field-tested, physically-based, distributed cold region hydrologic model to detect underlying mechanisms of hydrologic changes to these climatic extremes in the Sheyenne River Basin above Harvey, ND during 2004-present. We also plan to conduct a snow survey within the study to better understand snow accumulation, erosion, and other intermediate snow processes. Our proposed study will be useful to illuminate the substantial influences of increased precipitation on the intermediate processes generating streamflow in the upper Sheyenne River Basin.