The loss of Montana glaciers—a visible local example of climate warming—is an important bellwether of a broader set of changes to Montana’s water cycle. The physics of drought in the US central Great Plains. The primary atmospheric source for the water cycle is evaporated water from the ocean. Photograph courtesy of Scott Bischke. Figure 3-20. Water moves between the surface and subsurface (groundwater) in response to hydrostatic forces, as follows: Residence times for groundwater can range dramatically, from days in shallow alluvial aquifers to tens of thousands of years in deep bedrock aquifers. Other deeper sources of groundwater exist in bedrock aquifers, either where steep mountain fronts meet river valleys (especially in western Montana), or within large subsurface limestone and sandstone rock formations (especially in central and eastern Montana; Figure 3-4). The earlier streamflow peak, centered in March-April, results from early snowmelt as low-elevation prairies thaw. 1991 National water summary 1988-89: hydrologic events and floods and droughts. For explanation of specific confidence levels, refer to Future Projections in Water Chapter. Declining annual streamflow distributions in the Pacific Northwest United States, 1948–2006. Image from the Montana State Water Plan 2015, courtesy of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (MT DNRC 2015). Available online Accessed 2017 Mar 6. Effects of climate change on hydrology and water resources in the Columbia River basin. Nature 491(7424):435-8. 428 p. [USDA-NASS] US Department of Agriculture—National Agricultural Statistics Service. Global Environmental Change 9:S31-S49. McCabe GJ, Hay LE, Clark MP. Helena MT: State of Montana, DNRC. 2010. In addition, we know that groundwater-surface water interactions are central for projecting climate change impacts on water resources, particularly in snowmelt-dominated watersheds. Future changes in climate will alter Montana’s hydrology. North American trends in extreme precipitation. A key question is whether annual streamflows have changed over time in Montana and, if so, why. In: Wilhite DA, editor. [high agreement, medium evidence]11, Warming temperatures over the next century, especially during spring, are likely to reduce snowpack at mid and low elevations. Groundwater demand will likely increase as elevated temperatures and changing seasonal availability of traditional surface-water sources (e.g., dry stock water ponds or inability of canal systems to deliver water in a timely manner) force water users to seek alternatives. Climate-induced changes in annual streamflow have the potential to impact hydroelectric power generation, agricultural production, wildlife habitat, recreation, and other beneficial uses of Montana’s water resources. Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy AN, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR, White LL, editors. In some of Montana’s more urban areas—for example, Missoula, Kalispell, and Sidney—groundwater is the public water supply source. Global warming and 21st century drying. Is “centre of volume” a robust indicator of changes in snowmelt timing? 2008; Vano et al. United States Geological Survey water-supply paper 2375. 1 p. Available online, [USDA-NASS] US Department of Agriculture—National Agricultural Statistics Service. Ground water information center [website]. Dual-peaked hydrograph.—Some Montana rivers are fed by a combination of high- and low-elevation snowpack, creating an annual hydrograph with two distinct peaks. Climatic Change 98(1-2):133-54. Most concerning is the fact that these changes have occurred over a relatively short period, with the majority of glacial melt occurring since the 1980s (Pederson et al. In contrast, projections show moderately-high to high agreement that total annual streamflow will increase east of the Continental Divide (e.g., Missouri River, Yellowstone River, Musselshell River), especially under the RCP8.5 emission scenario (see Climate chapter). Climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment. 2015. Available online Accessed 2017 May 9. Decadal variability of precipitation over western North America. Cambridge UK and New York NY: Cambridge University Press. In contrast, snowmelt and peak flow tend to lag for snowmelt-dominated rivers at high elevations and with north-facing slopes due to cooler temperatures. [forthcoming]. The Madison Limestone is a bedrock aquifer that underlies most of central and eastern Montana. Pederson GT, Gray ST, Ault T, Marsh W, Fagre DB, Bunn AG, Woodhouse CA, Graumlich LJ. Some water temperatures are exclusive to Angler Spy, others are sourced from public sources such as USGS, NOAA or NDBC. Montana flood history from 1908-2011 from the National Water Summary and recent observations (Paulson et al. Today, many entities across the state address drought, including private and non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, and landowners, as well as unique watershed partnerships. Average annual snowfall varies considerably throughout the state, from roughly 20 inches (0.5 m) in the plains of northeastern Montana, to over 400 inches (10.1 m) in several mountain locations in the west (WRCC undated). Here we present projections of April 1 SWE values for three of our focal snowmelt-dominated basins in Montana (Figure 3-10). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79:231–41. As such, rising temperatures alone will influence flood risk, regardless of trends in precipitation (Salathé et al. 2015. Any future assessments aiming to offer precise estimates of projected streamflow volumes will need to undergo a model calibration process (USBR 2016). Attribution of declining western US snowpack to human effects. In general, warmer temperatures have a negative influence on August streamflow, while precipitation has a positive influence on flows. Yet, despite the sunshine, temperatures are generally not too hot except during periods of heat waves. Yet warming is also likely to increase the amount of winter and spring precipitation that falls as rain (particularly in rain-snow transition zones), which will accelerate snowmelt and could increase flood risk, depending on antecedent snowpack, soil moisture, and other conditions. The aquifer is the source for many large springs, including Giant Springs at Great Falls and Big Springs at Lewiston. During the same period, water levels in the aquifer dropped by 30 ft (9 m). 2004; Cook et al. For example, below-average winter precipitation can lead to smaller mountain snowpack volumes, which tend to result in shorter duration spring runoff (Hamlet and Lettenmaier 1999; Stewart et al. The Montana Demonstration Project partners are working collaboratively to engage and train community-based drought coordinators to lead planning, mitigation, and project implementation in each of the eight watersheds in the basin. By doing so, we can see the characteristics of the water such as the chemical, biological, and physical properties of the water, as … Geophysical Research Letters 34(16). To best represent the influence of climate variations on water resources, this chapter focuses on eight rivers and their watersheds (Figure 3-5; note that some watersheds—for example, Poplar River and others—extend beyond the state boundaries). Although a clear definition of drought is elusive, most definitions fall into four interrelated categories: Here, we focus on hydrological drought, in keeping with the emphasis on water availability and streamflow. Gages in this particular analysis were selected by the Basin Study of the Missouri River watershed (see earlier sidebar). This type of runoff pattern is only evident among plains watersheds without mid- or high-elevation headwaters, such as the Poplar River watershed at Poplar (Figure 3-6). 2013. Precipitation as rainfall is a significant part of the water cycle in Montana, and its contribution to runoff can exceed that of snowfall in prairie environments in the state. Available online doi:10.1029/2011GL049660. 2007. Luce CH, Holden ZA. These data provide an extensive resource for understanding the historical range of snowpack and streamflow across the state. The dark black line represents the 5-year moving average. Natural Hazards 29(2):291-305. Norton PA, Anderson MT, Stamm JF. Projected shifts in temperature and precipitation are likely to reduce diffuse recharge to the Fox Hills–Hell Creek aquifer and accelerate the current depletion by water users. 18 For an explanation of methods see Appendix 3-2 on the MCA website. 2011a), all snowpack measurements have limitations, including the potential for human measurement error, land-use change over the period of record, poor representation for watersheds with highly complex terrain, and misrepresentation of high-elevation sites that lack measurement stations (Gillan et al. McCabe et al. DeBeer CM, Pomeroy JW. In contrast, from the mid 1980s through approximately 2000, a positive phase led to relatively low snowpack years (Figure 3-9). climate and hydrology projections [website]. Figure 3-18. Overcast throughout the day. Warming temperatures over the next century, especially during spring, are likely to reduce snowpack at mid and low elevations. Glacier change in western North America: influences on hydrology, geomorphic hazards and water quality. [high agreement, medium evidence], Total annual streamflows are projected to increase slightly for most Montana rivers, but the magnitude of change and agreement among models vary across the state. In Montana’s rural areas, groundwater supplies stock, ranch, and domestic needs. 2011. Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM, editors. However, regional changes in evapotranspiration are less certain than global trends (Cook et al. Fish moving upstream.—Studies already show that distributions of brown trout (Salmo trutta) and bull trout have shifted upstream as fish seek to access cooler habitats (Eby et al. Modeling.—As part of the study, climate and hydrology models will be used to project future water supplies and demands for the Missouri River and its major tributaries. 2016) (see Climate chapter). 19 Marias at Chester is the closest downstream gage to Marias at Shelby, one of our focal gages. Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models. Water demand and management in the context of a changing climate.—, Improving the accuracy of models in Montana.—, Maintain and expand our water monitoring network.—. 219 p. Available online Accessed 2017 May 8. Most studies agree that general declines in snowpack across the West have resulted from warming spring temperatures (Mote 2003; Hamlet et al. 2000. 1 p. Available online Drought during the warm season is a common phenomenon in arid and snowmelt-dominated regions in the West, including much of Montana. Climate extremes: challenges in estimating and understanding recent changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme climate and weather events [chapter]. Hydrographs of larger rivers in the eastern part of the state, such as the lower Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, are influenced more strongly by high-elevation snowmelt in the headwaters, and therefore do not follow the low-elevation plains pattern. These floods are most common east of the Continental Divide during persistent cold weather fronts. 2004. Montana State Water Plan: a watershed approach to the 2015 Montana state water plan. Severe and widespread flooding impacting wide geographic area, Record statewide snowpack, Intense rain and rapid snowmelt runoff. Eby LA, Helmy O, Holsinger LM, Young MK. Moore RD, Fleming SW, Menounos B, Wheate R, Fountain A, Stahl K, Holm K, Jakob M. 2009. 1999; Pederson et al. Additionally, increases in greenhouse gas concentrations and associated warming can affect how efficiently plants use or store water, further influencing important components of the water cycle. Climate Prediction Center. Geophysical Research Letters 31:L12203. Long-term (decadal and multi-decadal) variation in total annual streamflow is largely influenced by quasi-cyclic changes in sea-surface temperatures and resulting climate conditions; the influence of climate warming on these patterns is uncertain. 2013. Consideration of these factors will be critical for preventing and mitigating floods into the future. Upper Missouri River basin, water plan 2014. Implications of spatial distributions of snow mass and melt rate for snow-cover depletion: observations in a subarctic mountain catchment. (2014) also reported recent (1960-2010) declines in annual streamflow for 30 rivers in the Upper Missouri watershed. 2011. Cayan DR, Dettinger MD, Diaz HF, Graham NE. Changes in stream temperature due to lower flows and rising air temperature are likely to have catastrophic impacts on some aquatic species, with ripple effects on Montana’s important river-based recreation industry (see Warming Rivers and Streams sidebar). However, since 2005 water levels have climbed to elevations, Irrigation-supported alluvial aquifers will likely be resilient to climate change, Alluvial aquifers recharged by irrigation are expected to be resistant to climate impacts. As a result, and as previously described (see Climate chapter), climate conditions vary significantly across the state. 2014). The relationship between changes in sea-surface temperature and drought is complicated by many factors, including a) the large number of meteorological or other environmental phenomena involved; b) the widely varying timescales and large distances those phenomena act over; and c) the fact that those phenomena can amplify or dampen each other’s effect on weather and climate (Schubert et al. Some regions, such as low-elevation sites in the northern Rocky Mountains (including Montana) and the Cascades, have experienced more drastic reductions than other sites, such as high-elevation loctions in the Sierras and central Rocky Mountains. Z-scores standardize the data to represent the number of standard deviations above or below the long-term average. These expected reductions in recharge might appear contrary to projected increases in annual streamflow (Figure 3-15)., Municipal, stock, industrial, and domestic use, Widespread and severe; worst flood until 1964; lives lost, 6, Excessive spring rains and snowmelt runoff, Worst on record; lives lost, 30 (all on the Blackfeet Reservation), Severe on larger tributaries; lives lost, 1, Ice jam flooding (Feb) in the Clark Fork and Yellowstone basins and widespread spring flooding. Clark Fork and Kootenai River basins, water plan 2014. Artwork by Jenny McCarty. Indeed, western Montana is often called the Crown of the Continent because headwater streams originating there give rise to the major rivers that drain three of North America’s largest watersheds, those of the Columbia, Missouri-Mississippi, and Saskatchewan rivers. Distribution of surface-level (i.e., surficial) and bedrock aquifers across Montana. The intermontane basins of the northern Rocky Mountains.—Within these basins groundwater generally occurs in shallow alluvial (sand and gravel) aquifers, and in deep-confined to semi-confined basin-fill aquifers, both of which contain large amounts of water. Groundwater systems with longer residence times may be less impacted by a changing climate than those with short residence times. Structure and detectability of trends in hydrological measures over the western United States. A titre de comparaison à Washington, la température moyenne annuelle est de 14.4°C et les précipitations sont en moyenne de 1078.4 mm. Geophysical Research Letters 36:L16401. Table 3-3. These rivers are generally located in the central and eastern parts of the state, for example the Musselshell River at Mosby and the Powder River near Locate (Figure 3-6). doi:10.1029/2007GL031022. 8 Montana Towns Known For Their Mild Winters. 2007). 2011a; Seager and Hoerling 2014). 2006), a trend that is expected to continue under future climate conditions (Barnett et al. 2012). Winter and spring precipitation, coupled with seasonal patterns of solar radiation, heavily influence streamflow in these rivers. 2016) based on extensive stream temperature data collected by several agencies across the state. At local scales and over shorter periods, annual streamflow responds to seasonal changes in climate variables (e.g., temperature, precipitation) and related processes such as evapotranspiration. McCabe GJ, Wolock DM. Most of the water that leaves the state east of the Continental Divide (approximately 16 million acre-feet/yr [2.0x1010 m3/yr]) is generated in the Yellowstone and Missouri river watersheds. We conducted an updated assessment of Montana’s April 1 SWE to assess variability and trends over the full record—from the late 1930s to present—of NRCS Snow Course observations.15 We used Snow Course rather than SNOTEL data because of its longer period of record. The earlier runoff results because of generally warmer temperatures and lower elevations (e.g., compare the warmer and lower-elevation Clark Fork River at Saint Regis to the Yellowstone River at Billings). Journal of the American Water Resources Association 35(6):1597-623. [high agreement, robust evidence]. 2012). Seasonal cycle shifts in hydroclimatology over the western United States. Luce and Holden (2009) reported declines in annual streamflow during the driest years (i.e., lowest 25th flow percentile) for a set of Pacific Northwest rivers, including some rivers in Montana west of the Continental Divide. However, where limestone layers are within 500-900 ft (150-270 m) of the land surface, the Madison Limestone aquifer is a productive and important source of domestic, municipal, industrial, and stock water. Journal of Climate 24:1666-87. The cold-water climate shield: delineating refugia for preserving salmonid fishes through the 21st century. 2004; Pederson et al. Policies and Notices, U.S. Department of the Interior | Altitudes vary from 600 meters to 4000 meters above sea level - additionally, the geography and topography lead to significant temperature variations. 2015). 2004; Pederson et al. 2011a. However, projections for these regions that incorporate other changes in climate (such as temperature and evapotranspiration) predict increasing drought frequency in the latter half of the 21, Factors associated with low summer flows in Montana, Here, we investigate factors associated with summer low flows in our focal rivers by examining correlations between historical (1929-2015) climate and August streamflow (e.g., the relationship between winter or spring precipitation and August flow; Figure 3-22). Hydrographs for two wells completed in the same aquifer near the Bitterroot River show very different responses. Available online Source: EPA, Climate Change Indicators in the United States. In general, April 1 SWE in Montana has declined roughly 20% over the last 80 yr, and this decline is most pronounced at lower elevation sites (Table 3-2). Low-elevation plains hydrograph.—Low-elevation watersheds, also largely located in central and eastern Montana, show more erratic spring flows, as well as far greater interannual variation due to the predominant influence of rain instead of snowmelt. 06088500 Muddy Creek near Vaughn, Montana (POR: 82 years); Updated June 11, 2020 - USGS water-resources … Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95(2):269-82. 2005. Flow is in cubic feet per second or CFS (metric unit is m3/s). They also provide habitat for rare and temperature-sensitive species like bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii), and pearlshell mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera). Possible light rain in the afternoon. Alley WM. [MT DNRC] Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Figure 3-13. For example, water managers and users now employ improved short-term drought forecasting methods to better plan for and mitigate drought impacts. Thus, identifying the most important factors that influence annual streamflow in each basin can help us understand how changing climate may influence future water supplies. Annals of Glaciology 38(1):195-201. Decadal-scale climate drivers for glacial dynamics in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Representative snowmelt-dominated rivers in Montana include the Middle Fork of the Flathead River at West Glacier, the Clark Fork River at Saint Regis, the Yellowstone River at Billings, the Missouri River at Toston, and the Marias River near Shelby. Geophysical Research Letters 40(9):1811-6. 2014. Journal of Climate 29(11):3989-4019. Serreze MC, Clark MP, Armstrong RL, McGinnis DA, Pulwarty RS. Trends in snow cover and related quantities at weather stations in the conterminous United States. Montana’s diverse geography and topography influence patterns of snowpack accumulation and snowmelt. Little change in global drought over the past 60 years. 44.75 °F: How Many Inches of Rain per year does Montana get ? Woodhouse CA, Pederson GT, Morino K, McAfee SA, McCabe GJ. Montana climate summary [website]. El Niño Southern Oscillation: Montana [website]. West-wide climate risk assessments—Columbia River basin climate impact assessment, final report: prepared for United States Congress. This pattern can be attributed to the end of the irrigation season, fall precipitation, residual groundwater return flows from irrigated areas, and a general reduction in plant evapotranspiration. During these events, frozen soils prevent the infiltration of surface water into soils, resulting in greatly elevated runoff (MT DNRC 2015). Pederson GT, Gray ST, Fagre DB, Graumlich LJ. Additionally, quantifying the effects of climate change on evapotranspiration—and subsequently to the water balance—is complex; so much so that future projections of drought risk vary significantly (Zwiers et al. 2016). 2014). Highlights of climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment. This characteristic will allow groundwater storage to play a key role in dampening the impact of climate variability on water resources (Taylor et al. Journal of Climate 29(18):6783-804. Ferguson SA. The size of pie pieces correspond to how strong the particular climate factor influences total annual streamflow. 2010). 2016. In one instance, the Marias River, streamflow information dates back to the 1910s. 2013). Water Temperature data is collected daily from sources such as USGS and the US Army Corp of Engineers. Numerous studies in western North America support this conclusion (Dettinger and Cayan 1995; Stewart et al. It is unclear whether these declines are attributed to changes in climate or other factors such as changing patterns of land or water use (e.g., conversion of agricultural lands to subdivisions, or changing irrigation methods and practices). Modelling snowmelt and snowcover depletion in a small alpine cirque, Canadian Rocky Mountains. Wed. Overcast throughout the day. This unique partnership is successfully demonstrating a) the value of enhanced coordination, and b) how to effectively leverage federal, state, and private resources to build community and ecosystem resilience to prepare and adapt to a changing climate. While drought likely represents the greatest persistent water-resource concern in Montana, flooding has also occurred regularly throughout the state’s history, resulting in loss of life and substantial damage to property, infrastructure, and riparian ecosystems. 2013. NorWeST regional database and modeled stream temperatures [website]. The effects of climate change on groundwater resources are relatively uncertain, but the sensitivity of a given aquifer to change will depend on its geographic setting, and the particular mechanisms of groundwater recharge. By comparison, the highest annual snowpack totals east of the Continental Divide (20-35 inches [0.5-0.9 m] of SWE) are generally located at elevations over 8000 ft (2400 m) (NRCS 2016). Those temperatures generally reflect patterns in average air temperatures—usually being coldest in the high mountains and warmest at low elevations and in the eastern plains. 2014). Journal of Hydrology 534:124-38. 1535 p. Strzepek K, Yohe G, Neumann J, Boehlert B. Increasing Northern Hemisphere water deficit. Text and figure contributed by Larry Dolan (MT DNRC) and Marketa McGuire (US Bureau of Reclamation). Data represent observed and projected shifts in the center of timing17 of streamflow. Observed trends in total annual streamflow, Luce and Holden (2009) reported declines in annual streamflow during the driest years (i.e., lowest 25, Factors that influence total annual streamflow. Coastal Water Temperature Guide (CWTG) To display water temperatures in a region of your interest: Select it from the side menu at left, or, Select it from a Google Map-based Web page, or,; Point and click on the region shown on the map below. Technical memorandum 86-68210-2013-06. Usually this means the weather station … Determining trends in flood events and their underlying causes is difficult due to the complex interplay of climate and human-related factors. 2004; Moore et al. [medium agreement, medium evidence]. 77° 70°. Some of these factors lead to greater flow (positive), while others lead to reduced annual flow (negative). 2012. We used the same model output described in the snowpack section to assess projected changes in streamflow for our focal river basins. A sufficient supply of water (especially during the summer) is not only important for maintaining Montana’s agricultural industry, but it also underpins our natural ecosystems and the state’s rapidly growing tourism economy (Power and Power 2015, 2016). Climate warming in western North America: evidence and environmental effects. Les températures maximales atteignent les 29°C au mois de juillet. The red shading represents the most significant periods of hydrologic drought for each focal river. 2013. This process, more common during the summer months, … T° Billings: -10 / -5 / °C. July is the hottest month for Montana with an average high temperature of 83.7°, which ranks it as cooler than most states. Future flood risk.—Warming will continue to reduce mountain snowpack, and this could reduce flood risk related to rain-on-snow events by reducing the quantity of water available for release stored as snow (Cohen et al. The above studies and others (e.g., Hamlet and Lettenmeier 2007) suggest that change in flood risk during the latter half of the 20. Total annual streamflow projections for the focal rivers under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 for 2040-2069. [undated]. The Water Court adjudicates water rights claims under the Montana Water Use Act of 1973, and has statewide jurisdiction. Along with slope, aspect, and other features of the local setting, elevation is a critical variable that determines how watersheds across Montana respond to changes in climate because of the relationship between elevation and temperature (Pomeroy et al. Sheffield J, Wood EF. Cook ER, Seager R, Cane MA, Stahle DW. Linear trends in snowpack for particular elevations east and west of the Divide, calculated from data in Figure 3-9.16. APRIL 1 SWE projections for three snowmelt-dominated basins in Montana under two scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) and two time periods (2040-2069 and 2070-2099). Barnett TP, Pierce DW, Hidalgo HG, Bonfils C, Santer BD, Das T, Bala G, Wood AW, Nozawa T, Mirin AA, Cayan DR, Dettinger MD. Drought under global warming: a review. 2012) and increasing air temperatures (Pederson et al. NorWest Stream Temp: regional database and modelled stream temperatures [website]. Questions or concerns about USGS streamflow data in Montana and Wyoming can be directed to Kirk Miller (; 307-775-9168).Updated September 18, 2020 - USGS water-resources monitoring activities were restored effective August 17, 2020 at the following site:. Detectability of trends toward earlier snowmelt and streamflow for our focal rivers and the magnitude the... Approximately 2000, a positive influence on flows or snow can also help montana water temperatures augment years of relatively weather. 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Allen DM, Stahle DW ID: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research.!, editors naturalized streamflow in four Montana River basins, water managers users! From relatively narrow surficial exposures historically, temperature appears to be constant 6°C/42.8°F in the hydrographs... Many Rainy days a year are there in Montana, [ USBR ] Department... Data represent observed and projected shifts in the western United States lakes throughout (! ; Dressler et al réalisé à partir des pas de temps, la taille de L ’ échantillon est minimum. Hegewisch KC the criteria described in the face of projected streamflow volumes will need to undergo model... Driving drought prediction accuracy is expected to have far-reaching effects on these different categories of streams, which together referred... 2000 Oct 2-6 ; Big Sky MT eby la, Helmy O, Holsinger LM, Young MK Nagel. These rivers 1325 east west Highway Silver spring, are likely due to upwelling increasing influence of circulation. The Yellowstone River valley leading to above average Mountain snowpack in western central!

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