An analysis of the distribution of precipitation and runoff from the historical record for the continental United States Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/tx31qk82r

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  • Characterizing the distribution of precipitation at regional scales is a requirement for the development of regional scale, spatially distributed hydrologic water balance models. This study performs a preliminary assessment of the utility and limitations of historical hydro-meteorological data for providing spatially distributed precipitation estimates over large areas. The historical data are used in a spatial analysis to characterize regional patterns of precipitation and runoff across the conterminous United States. Precipitation and runoff "surfaces" generated from interpolation of point measurements capture broad regional patterns. A distributed water balance is calculated over the continent using long-term (1948 -1988) and seven-year (1982 -1988) annual average values to check the reliability of precipitation estimates. The resulting "input-output surfaces" illustrate the deficiency (low elevation bias) of historical precipitation measurements in the mountainous western United States where snowmelt is an important component of the annual runoff. The incorporation of high elevation snow measurements into the precipitation record for the seven-year average significantly improves the water budget estimates in these regions and enhances the utility of historical data for providing spatially distributed precipitation estimates at regional and continental scales.
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