How low can you go? Widespread challenges in measuring low stream discharge and a path forward


Low flows pose unique challenges for accurately quantifying streamflow. Current field methods are not optimized to measure these conditions, which in turn, limits research and management. In this essay, we argue that the lack of methods for measuring low streamflow is a fundamental challenge that must be addressed to ensure sustainable water management now and into the future, particularly as climate change shifts more streams to increasingly frequent low flows. We demonstrate the pervasive challenge of measuring low flows, present a decision support tool (DST) for navigating best practices in measuring low flows, and highlight important method developmental needs.

Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Sam Zipper
HEAL PI; Assistant Scientist/Professor

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