Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
January 2014

Climate and Direct Human Contributions to Changes in Mean Annual Streamflow in the South Atlantic, USA

Author(s)
Type
Climate and Direct Human Contributions to Changes in Mean Annual Streamflow in the South Atlantic, USA
Publisher

Streamflow responds to changing climate patterns as well as human modifications within a basin. Understanding the contribution of these different drivers to changes in streamflow provides important information regarding how to effectively and efficiently address and anticipate changes in water availability. In this study, published in the journal Water Resources Research, authors used Budyko curves to ascribe changes in streamflow due to climate and human factors between two time periods in both natural and human-modified basins in the South Atlantic. They found climate contributed to increased streamflow (average of 14%) in the South Atlantic since the 1970s. Human factors varied between basins and either amplified or minimized the effect of climate on streamflow. Human impacts were equivalent to, or greater than, climate impacts in 27% of our basins.