The influence of climate modes on streamflow in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States

Justin A. Schulte, Raymond G. Najjar, Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Study region: The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Study focus: An understanding of past streamflow variability is necessary for developing future management practices that will help mitigate the impacts of extreme events such as drought or floods on agriculture and other human activities. To better understand mechanisms driving streamflow variability at all timescales, annual to multi-decadal streamflow variability of three major rivers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States (the Susquehanna, Delaware, and Hudson Rivers) was studied in the context of climate modes using correlation and wavelet analyses. New hydrological insights for the region: Results from the correlation analysis detected statistically significant relationships between climate indices and streamflow that were similar for the three rivers. The results from the wavelet analysis showed that 18- and 26-year periodicities were embedded in the streamflow time series. Decadal variability of streamflow was coherent with the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (SO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The time series for the PDO and SO indices and precipitation were found to be synchronized to the decadal variability of a global circulation pattern consisting of a Rossby wave train emanating from the North Pacific. The SO explained 37-54% of the 1960s drought, 33-49% of the 1970s pluvial, and 19-50% of the 2000s pluvial in the three river basins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-99
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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