American Geophysical Union / John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Recent advances in climate prediction and remote sensing offer the potential to improve long-lead streamflow forecasts and to provide better land surface state estimates at the time of forecast. We characterize predictability of runoff at seasonal timescales in the Mississippi River basin due to climatic persistence (represented by El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation) and persistence related to the initial land surface state (soil moisture and snow). These climate and land surface state indicators, at varying lead times, are then used in a multiple linear regression to explain the variance of seasonal average runoff. Soil moisture dominates runoff predictability for lead times of 1 1/2 months, except in summer in the western part of the basin, where snow dominates. For the western part of the basin, the land surface state has a stronger predictive capability than climate indicators through leads of two seasons; climate indicators are more important in the east at lead times of one season or greater. Modest winter runoff predictability exists at a lead time of 3 seasons due to both climate and soil moisture, but this is in areas producing little runoff and is therefore of lessened importance. Local summer runoff predictability is limited to the western mountainous areas (generating high runoff) through a lead of 2 seasons. This could be useful to water managers in the western portion of the Mississippi River basin, because it suggests the potential to provide skillful forecast information earlier in the water year than currently used in operational forecasts.
Maurer, E.P. and D.P. Lettenmaier, 2003, Predictability of seasonal runoff in the Mississippi River basin, J. Geophys. Res. 108 (D16) 8607 doi:10.1029/2002JD002555