Indexed on: 10 Nov '17Published on: 01 Sep '17Published in: Climate Risk Management
We investigated possible influences of land use/land cover change (LULCC) and precipitation on spatiotemporal changes in extreme stream flows within the watershed of the Huron River Basin during the summer seasons from 1992 to 2011. Within the basin, the urban landscape increased from 8% to 16% during the study period, while forest and agricultural lands declined by 7%. There was an increase in landscape heterogeneity within the watershed that varied from 1.21% in 1992 to 1.34% in 2011, with agricultural practices and forest regions competing due to the expansion of varying intensities of urban development. Normalized stream discharge from multiple subwatersheds increased over time, with an average increase from 0.21 m3 s−1 m to 1.64 m3 s−1 m over the study period. Land use and precipitation affected stream discharge, with increasing urban development exhibiting a 37% chance of affecting extreme stream flows within the watershed. More importantly, much of the precipitation observed within the watershed temporally affected stream discharge based on expansion of urban settlement within the basin. This caused a higher likelihood of flashiness, as runoff is more concentrated and stream flow became more variable. We concluded that, within the watersheds of the Huron River, LULCC is the major determinant of increased stream flow and potential flooding.