Quantifying impacts of climate change on headwater streamflow regime in Robinson Forest: Insights from 35-years of data collection

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Climate change may shift patterns of streamflow permanence in headwater systems by altering the frequency, magnitude, duration, timing, and rate of change of surface streamflow, impacting both local ecosystems as well as regional water budgets and availability. While much uncertainty surrounds modeling-based methods to quantify the impacts of climate change on water budgets, long-term hydrologic data collected from headwaters in experimental research forests serve as critical evidence to reduce such uncertainty. The objective of this study is to quantify shifts in frequency, magnitude, duration, timing, and rate of change of streamflow in two headwater catchments with relatively little recent disturbance on the Cumberland Plateau using a suite of emerging hydrological statistics and trend analyses. This study determined that each catchment resulted in different streamflow permanence trends over time. Climate and evapotranspiration (ET) may have a significant impact on processes impacting streamflow permanence in each catchment as the major structural differences between the two catchments are slope and aspect.

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