Analysis of streamflow trends and the effects of climate in Pennsylvania, 1971 to 2001

Y. Zhu, R. L. Day

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39 Scopus citations


An understanding of temporal trends in total streamflow (TSF), base flow (BF), and storm runoff (RO) can help in the development of water management plans for watersheds and local communities. In this study, 47 streams across Pennsylvania that were unregulated and unaffected by karst environments or coal mining were studied for flow trends and their relationships to selected climate parameters for the period 1971 to 2001. LOWESS curves for annual flow showed that almost all of the selected streams in Pennsylvania had downward trends in total TSF, BF, and RO. Using a seasonal Mann-Kendall analysis, downward trends were significant at an α = 0.05 level for 68, percent 70 percent, and 62 percent of the streams and at an α = 0.10 level for another 19, 17, and 13 percent of the streams for TSF, BF, and RO, respectively. The ratio of BF to TSF (RBS) had significant upward trends for 34 percent of the streams at an α = 0.05 level and for another 9 percent of the streams at an α = 0.10 level, indicating that TSF decreased relative to BF for more than 40 percent of the streams during the previous 30 years. Downward trends in TSF, BF, and RO were most common for the months of June, July, and December. Trend analyses using monthly and annual total precipitation and mean temperature showed some association between climate and the streamflow trends, but Spearman's correlation and partial Mann-Kendall analyses revealed that the trends in TSF, BF, and RO could not be explained by trends in precipitation and temperature alone, and thus urbanization and development may have played a role. (JAWRA) (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number03209
Pages (from-to)1393-1405
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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