The Drying Regimes of Non-Perennial Rivers and Streams


The flow regime paradigm is central to the aquatic sciences, where flow drives critical functions in lotic systems. Non-perennial streams comprise the majority of global river length, thus we extended this paradigm to stream drying. Using 894 USGS gages, we isolated 25,207 drying events from 1979 to 2018, represented by a streamflow peak followed by no flow. We calculated hydrologic signatures for each drying event and using multivariate statistics, grouped events into drying regimes characterized by: (a) fast drying, (b) long no-flow duration, (c) prolonged drying following low antecedent flows, (d) drying without a distinctive hydrologic signature. 77% of gages had more than one drying regime at different times within the study period. Random forests revealed land cover/use are more important to how a river dries than climate or physiographic characteristics. Clustering stream drying behavior may allow practitioners to more systematically adapt water resource management practices to specific drying regimes or rivers.

Geophysical Research Letters
Sam Zipper
HEAL PI; Assistant Scientist/Professor

I specialize in ecohydrology and hydrogeology of agricultural and urban landscapes.