Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Estimating freshwater fluxes into the Gulf of Alaska

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  • Regression equations for mean monthly streamflow in watersheds running off into the Gulf of Alaska have been determined. The equations were obtained by regressing observed streamflow at 246 USGS and Environment Canada gaging stations against a number of relevant meteorological and basin physical parameters. Meteorological parameters include mean monthly precipitation, cumulative water year precipitation, and mean monthly temperature. High-resolution grids of these parameters were obtained through statistical downscaling methods. Basin physical parameters include area, mean elevation, and percent forest cover, and were selected from a larger set based upon initial regression efforts. Regionalization was used in order to organize the entire ensemble of gaged watersheds into several hydrologically similar groups. When comparing regression-calculated flow to measured flow the groups showed typical average errors of 40%, a value consistent with previously obtained equations for other runoff quantities such as peak flows. Once the regression equations were finalized, they were applied to a set of ungaged watersheds making up the entire Gulf of Alaska drainage, yielding approximately 792 km³/yr of freshwater flowing off the coast of Alaska. This prediction of freshwater runoff to the Gulf is comparable to previous studies, with watershed-scale spatial resolution and monthly temporal resolution. Implementation of a distributed hydrological model then evaluated snow water equivalent to begin to describe sources of freshwater runoff.
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