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Hydrology I

E.C. LaRue measuring Deer Creek flow
E.C. LaRue measuring Deer Creek flow

HYDROLOGY: the science dealing with continental waters, their occurrence, distribution and movements through the entire cycle of precipitation, evapotranspiration, atmospheric circulation, surface flow, and subsurface flow.


This section offers a broad analysis of sea level fluctuations, streamflow, drought, pluvials, atmospheric rivers, floods, sediment transport, historic and prehistoric climate, natural- and human-caused climate change, changes in sea-surface temperature (Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), and El Niño & La Niña (ENSO).

  • Please also visit sections entitled Floods and Groundwater
  • CLICK HERE - to  use Colorado River Open Source Simulator (CROSS) and determine your own analysis of what the Colorado River system of reservoirs will look like in a future.










  • At the beginning of the 19th century, sea level was on a slow, downward trend. In the decade of the 1880s, the trend began to rise. At the beginning of the 21st century, the total rise in sea level was about 7 inches. As of 2024, the total rise in sea level since 1880 is about 10 inches. The projection for sea level rise at the beginning of the 22nd century is an additional 24 inches.
  • If it takes 3 centuries to elevate the ocean 34 inches, than it will take 3 centures to lower the ocean by 34 inches.
Luna B. Leopold Victor R. Baker



    Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)

    Pacific El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

    Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)

    North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)

    Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)





2010 - The suite from Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

2020 - Anthropology as a paleoclimate proxy from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Other anthropology proxies


1879 - Lands of the Arid West. Powell.

1928 - Report of the Colorado River Board on the Boulder Canyon Dam Project. Sibert.

1944 - Water Supply Paper 918. USGS; Dickinson.

1948 - Floods in Colorado. USGS; Follansbee.

1946 - Cloudburst floods in Utah. Woolley. US Geological Survey.

1946 - Light on the Mexican Treaty. Ely. (identified the structural deficit of the lower Colorado River)

1950 - Hydrology of the upper Colorado River basin. Upper Colorado River Commission. (Full Annual Report)

1953 - Depletion of water supplies allocated to state of Colorado by Colorado River Compacts. Hill. Colorado Water Conservation Board. (notes on report)
Note: Includes discussion of oil shale development.

1953 - Hydraulic Geometry of Stream Channels and Physiographic Implications. Leopold et al.

1957 - Carbon Dioxide Exchange Between Atmosphere and Ocean and the Question of an Increase of Atmospheric CO2 during the Past Decades. Revelle.

1959 - Probability Analysis Applied to a Water-Supply Problem. Leopold.

1959 - Water Yield and Reservoir Storage in United States. Langbein.

1965 - Water Supplies of the Colorado River. Tipton. Upper Colorado River Commission. (notes on report).

1976 - Long-term surface-water supply and streamflow trends in the upper Colorado River basin. Stockton and Jacoby. National Science Foundation.

1976 - Hydrology and Sedimentology of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Emmett M. Laursen and Elliot Silverston.

1977 - A Reverence for Rivers. Leopold.

1979 - Geohydrological Implications of Climate Change on Water Resource Development. Stockton & Boggess.

1983 - Effects of Carbon-Induced Climatic Change on Water Supplies in the Western USA. Revelle and Wagoneer.

1983 - Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee. National Academy of Sciences.

1984 - Secular Variations in Streamflow in Western United States. Meko and Stockton. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology.

1985 - The Colorado River: Instability and Basin Management. Graf. Association of American Geographers.

1986 - Lake Powell Evaporation Study. Bureau of Reclamation.

1988 - Hydrologic determination of the Upper Basin. Bureau of Reclamation.

1990 - An assessment of severe and sustained drought in the Colorado River Basin. Kendall and Dracup.

1990 - Determination of an Upper Limit Design Rainstorm in the Colorado River Basin Above Hoover Dam. Reclamation.

1991 - Sediment Transport in the Colorado River Basin. National Research Council.

1993 - The Colorado River Basin and Climatic Change: The Sensitivity of Streamflow and Water Supply to Variations in Temperature and Precipitation. Nash and Gleick. Environmental Protection Agency.

1995 - A special study on severe and sustained drought in the Colorado River basin. American Water Resources Association.

1995 - The suite of Severe and Sustained Drought Study (SSD) documents

1997 - The effect of draining Lake Powell on water supply and electricity production. Spreck Rosecrans.

1997 - Climate Variability, Climate Change, and Western Water. Miller. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

1997 - Colorado River Basin Study. Pontius. Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission.

1998 - 2000 Years of Drought Variability in Central United States. Woodhouse and Overpeck. American Meteorological Society.

2000 - Alternative principal components regression procedures for dendrohydrologic reconstructions. Hidalgo. Water Resources Research.

Year 2001

2001 - Climate extremes and adaptive management on the Colorado River: Lessons from the 1997–1998 ENSO event. Pulwarty & Melis.

2001 - Changes in the Onset of Spring in the Western United States. Cayan et al. American Meteorological Society.

Year 2002

2002 - Valley-Fill Alluviation During Little Ice Age Paria River basin and southern Colorado Plateau,USA. Hereford.

2002 - Recent Sediment Studies Refute Glen Canyon Dam Hypothesis. Rubin et al. Eos. American Geophysical Union.

Year 2003

2003 - Patterns and sources of multidecadal oscillations in drought-sensitive tree-ring records from the central and southern Rocky Mountains. Gray. Geophysical Research Letters.

2003 - Changes in snowmelt runoff timing in western North America under the 'business as usual' climate change scenario. Stewart et al. Climate Change Journal.

2003 - A 431-Yr Reconstruction of Western Colorado Snowpack from Tree Rings. Woodhouse. Journal of Climate.

2003 - Cadillac Desert Revisisted (Central Arizona Project). Holland et al.

2003 - Computation and Analysis of the Instantaneous-Discharge Record for the Colorado River at Lees Ferry-1921 to 2000. Topping et al.

2003 - Drought Conditions in Utah During 1999-2002: A Historical Perspective. USGS.

Year 2004

2004 - A multi-scale perspective of water pulses in dryland ecosystems: climatology and ecohydrology of the western USA. Loik.

2004 - The effects of climate change on the water resources of the west: Introduction and overview. Barnett et al. Climate Change Journal.

2004 - Tree-ring reconstruction of Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Gray et al.

2004 - The effects of climate change on the hydrology and water resources of the Colorado River basin. Christensen et al. Climate Change Journal.

2004 - Long-Term Aridity in the Western United States. Cook et al. Science.

2004 - Climate precursors of multidecadal drought varibility in the western United States. Hidalgo.

2004 - The Western U.S. Drought: How Bad Is It? Piechota et al. Eos.

2004 - Streamflow variability and Reconstruction for the Colorado River Basin. Piechota et al. American Society of Civil Engineers.

2004 - Pacific and Atlantic Ocean influences on multidecaddal drought frequency in the USA. McCabe, et al. Proceedings of National Academy.

Year 2005

2005 - Trends and Variability in Snowmelt Runoff in the Western United States. McCabe & Clark. American Meteorological Society.

2005 - Changes toward earlier streamflow timing across Western North America. Stewart et al.

2005 - Structure & Functioning of Dryland Ecosystems. USGS.

2005 - Global pattern of trends in streamflow and water availibility in a changing climate. Milly et al. Nature.

2005 - Declining Mountain Snowpack in Western North America. Mote et al. American Meteorological Society.

2005 - Climatic Fluctuations, Drought, and Flow in the Colorado River Basin. Webb. US Geological Survey.

2005 - The twentieth-century pluvial in the western United States. Woodhouse et al. American Geophysical Union.

2005 - Seasonal Cycle Shifts in Hydroclimatology over the Western United States. Regonda et al.

2005 - Less Snow, Less Water: Climate Disruption in the West. Saunders.

2005 - Colorado River Basin Climate. CRWUA.

2005 - Variations of Pacific Decadal Oscillation Over Past Millennium. MacDonald.

Year 2006

2006 - Projecting the Risk of Future Climate Shifts. Enfield.

2006 - Hydrology & Water Quality of Green River Surrounding Agricultural Areas Near Green River in Emery & Grand Counties, Utah. USGS.

2006 - Relationships between Pacific and Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures and U.S. streamflow. Tootle & Piechota. Water Resources Research.

2006 - Updated Streamflow Reconstructions for the Upper Colorado River Basin. Woodhouse et al. Water Resources Research.

2006 - Managing Drought: Roadmap for Change in the United States. GSA.

2006 - The Past Record of North American Drought. Woodhouse.

Year 2007

2007 - A multimodel ensemble approach to assessment of climate change impacts on the hydrology and water resources of the Colorado River basin. Christensen & Lettenmaier. Hydrology and Earth Sciences.

2007 - North American Droughts of the last Millennium from a Gridded Network of Tree-Ring Data. Herweijer et al. Journal of Climate.

2007 - Past Peak Water in the Southwest. Hoerling & Eischeid. Southwest Hydrology.

2007 - Model Projections of an Imminenet Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America. Seager et al. Science.

2007 - Asssociations of Decadal to Multidecadal Sea-Surface Temperature Variability with Upper Colorado River Flow. McCabe et al. American Water Resources Association.

2007 - Medieval Drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Meko et al. American Geophysical Union.

2007 - Colorado River Basin Water Management: Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability. National Research Council. National Academy of Sciences.

2007 - Impact of disturbed desert soils on duration of mountain snow cover. Painter et al. Geophysical Research Letters.

2007 - Five hundred years of hydrological drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Timilsen et al. Journal of American Water Resources Association

2007 - Warming may create substantial water supply shortages in the Colorado River basin. McCabe and Wolock. Geophysical Research Letters.

2007 - Changes in Aridity in the Western United States. Hidalgo et al.

2007 - Impact of Streamflow Variability on the Colorado River System Operation. Keedy et al.

Year 2008

2008 - Human-Induced Changes in the Hydrology of the Western United States. Barnett, et al. Science.

2008 - Attribution of Declining Western USA Snowpack to Human Effects. Pierce, et al.

2008 - When will Lake Mead go dry? Barnett and Pierce. Journal of Water Resources Research.

2008 - Multi-decadal SST Variability & US Drought. McCabe et al.

2008 - Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management. Milly et al. Science.
Death of stationarity presentation by Stephen Gray.

2008 - Hotter and Drier: The West's Changed Climate. Saunders.

2008 - Climate Warming and 21st Century Drought in Southwestern North America. MacDonald et al. Eos, American Geophysical Union.

2008 -Models, Assumptions, and Stakeholders: Planning for Water Supply Variability in the Colorado River Basin. Garrick et al. American Water Resouces Association.

2008 - Long-Term Global Heating from Energy Usage. Eos. American Geophysical Union.

2008 - Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaption. University of Colorado at Boulder.

2008 - Climate Change and Water. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Year 2009

2009 - Water Promises: Much Ado About Nothing. Universities Council on Water Resorces.

2009 - Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Solomon et al.

2009 - Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective. Brekke et al.

2009 - Persistent Positive Atlantic Oscillation during Medieval Climate. Trouet et al.

2009 - Sustainable water deliveries from the Colorado River in a changing climate. Barnett & Pierce.

2009 - A 1,200-year perspective of 21st century drought in southwestern North America. Woodhouse.

2009 - Global Climate Change Impacts in the USA. U.S. Global Change Research Program

2009 - Water supply risk on the Colorado River: Can management mitigate? Rajagopalan et al. (Nowak PowerPoint) (Barsugli PowerPoint)

2009 - Climate Change Literature Synthesis. USBR.

2009 - Assessing the future of Wyoming's water resources. Univ. of Wyo.

2009 - Biological consequences of earlier snowmelt from desert dust deposition in alpine landscapes. Steltzer et al.

2009 - Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets For Limiting Global Waming To 2 C. Meinshausen et al

2009 - A Nonparametric Approach for Paleohydrologic Reconstruction of Annual Streamflow Ensembles. Gangopadhyay.

2009 - Climate Change & Water Resources Management, a Federal Perspective. USGS.

Year 2010

2010 - "Stationarity Is Dead" - Long Live Transformation: Five Principles for Climate Change Adaption Law. Craig.

2010 - Response of Colorado River runoff to dust radiative forcing in snow. Painter et al.

2010 - Rethinking Vulnerability on the Colorado. Universities Council on Water Resources.

2010 - Rethinking Vulneribility on the Colorado River. Kenney et al.

2010 - Long-term relationships between ocean variability and water resources in NE Utah. Tingstad et al.

2010 - The suite from Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

2010 - Dry Times Ahead. Overpeck & Udall.

2010 - Overview of Atmospheric River Scenario. USGS

2010 - On the causes and dynamics of the early twentieth century North American pluvial. Cook et al.

Year 2011

2011 - Causes and Dynamics of Early 20th Century Pluvial. Cook et al.

2011 - Responses of wind erosion to climate-induced vegetation changes on the Colorado Plateau. Munson et al.

2011 SECURE Water Report. Reclamation.

2011 - Interim Report Colorado River Basin Study of Supply and Demand Part One (complete). Reclamation.

2011 - Unusual Nature of Recent Snowpack Declines in North American Cordillera. Pederson et al.

2011 - Second Century Megadrought Rio Grande Headwaters. Routson.

2011 - Evaluating Climate Change in the Colorado River Basin Using Regional Climate Models. Gao.

2011- Evidence for Younger Dryas global climate oscillation and human response in the American Southwest. Ballenger et al.


List continues at Hydrology Part Two


Flood documents can be found HERE










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