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This study incorporates antecedent (preceding) soil moisture into forecasting streamflow volumes within the North Platte River Basin, Colorado/Wyoming (USA). The incorporation of antecedent soil moisture accounts for infiltration and can improve streamflow predictions. Current Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) forecasting methods are replicated, and a comparison is drawn between current NRCS forecasts and proposed forecasting methods using antecedent soil moisture. Current predictors used by the NRCS in regression-based streamflow forecasting include precipitation, streamflow persistence (previous season streamflow volume) and snow water equivalent (SWE) from SNOTEL (snow telemetry) sites. Proposed methods utilize antecedent soil moisture as a predictor variable in addition to the predictors noted above. A decision system was used to segregate data based on antecedent soil moisture conditions (e.g., dry, wet or normal). Principal Components Analysis and Stepwise Linear Regression were applied to generate streamflow forecasts, and numerous statistics were determined to measure forecast skill. The results show that when incorporating antecedent soil moisture, the “poor” forecasts (i.e., years in which the NRCS forecast di ered greatly from the observed value) were improved, while the overall forecast skill remains unchanged. The research presented shows the need to increase the monitoring and collection of soil moisture data in mountainous western U.S. watersheds, as this parameter results in improved forecast skill.


This article was originally published in Hydrology, volume 6, in 2019. DOI: 10.3390/hydrology6020050

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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