Future climates in the northeastern United States are predicted to have higher total precipitation but more drought like periods. This suggests fewer, but more intense storm events which may increase the likelihood of flood events. In this study, we use long-term USGS stream gauges and NWS land stations to evaluate if this trend has been occurring. Streams in the northeast U.S. with a minimum of 50 years or more of data in rural locations with little apparent recent change in land use were selected for analysis. This provides an opportunity to evaluate changing precipitation patterns influences on surface hydrology with minimal anthropogenic impact. A total of 33 stream gauging stations from the Northeast U.S. were examined. In each location annual peak discharge, annual daily mean discharge, days with more than 0.5 in of precipitation, annual total precipitation, and annual peak precipitation were tested statistically against time using linear regression analysis. Throughout the northeast there is a general increase in all five of these parameters. Many of the discharge and precipitation time series show an apparent cyclicity. This suggests the influence of both climate change and longer-term atmospheric oscillations in the study locations. The apparent increase in precipitation and subsequently discharge indicate the potential for increased flood risk in the future.
Grant Barney is a Senior at The College at Brockport. He is double majoring in Earth Science and Health Science, and he previously participated in the college's varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams. After graduating in the Spring of 2016, Grant intends to obtain a Master's Degree in Public Health. Prior to his attendance at The College at Brockport; Grant was a member of the United States Air Force, and served as a medic and operating room technician. He deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2010 to July 2011. The following research represents the culmination of his Senior Capstone; mentored and facilitated by Dr. Mark Noll, Earth Sciences Department Chair.
Mark Noll is professor of geology in the Department of the Earth Sciences at SUNY Brockport. He came to Brockport in 1997 after spending almost 9 years in the environmental remediation industry where he was primarily engaged in remediation technology development, including leading the effort to establish the U.S. Air Forces Groundwater Remediation Field Lab, which allowed for controlled releases of chlorinated solvents into a clean water table aquifer. At Brockport, Dr. Noll’s research has primarily been on cycling of P in terrestrial and aquatic environments. Recently, he has been involved in investigating the movement of anthropogenic Pb in soil with the aim of reducing exposure risks, and in the impact of climate change on water resources.