This is a part of the 2015 Fall VPS. For more VPS articles, click here
Category: Mapping Water Quality
Project Team: Missouri River Climate
Team Location: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – Asheville, North Carolina
Dr. DeWayne Cecil (Global Science and Technology, Inc.; National Centers for Environmental Information [NCEI])
The Missouri RiverÛ÷s highly variable discharge directly affects livelihoods in six states. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages six main stem dams for flood mitigation, irrigation and hydropower needs, and other purposes. These decisions impact local residents, businesses, and ecosystems, which rely on accurate forecasting of river flows. However, environmental variables such as soil moisture, snowpack, and soil temperature have an unquantified influence on river runoff. In particular, the Northern Plains Region of the Basin is not adequately covered by on-the-ground monitoring stations, resulting in a data-poor region and an incomplete understanding of the driving variables of run-off. This project used NASA Earth observations, NOAA Climate Data Records (CDRs), and in situ datasets to improve the understanding of water availability and runoff. The project analyzed the soil moisture, snowpack, and soil temperature for the preceding 30+ years (1979-2015). For each variable, the team produced maps of 30-year annual and monthly means, minimums, maximums, and inter-annual linear trends. Grid cells corresponding to NOAA and USGS ground stations were verified with in situ observations and qualitatively analyzed for temporal patterns. These results will aid the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division (MRBWM) team in their informed water management throughout the basin in future years. The analysis will help them to communicate with residents about the potential causes of runoff in the region.