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Missouri River basin sensitive to decadal climate variability


A study partially funded by CPO’s Sectoral Applications Research Program and published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology found after simulation experiments that climate variability phenomena can greatly influence water availability of the Missouri River basin.
The study’s paper states extreme magnitude scenarios of climate variability phenomena seem to be associated with extreme droughts and wet periods in the Missouri River basin. While impacts to surface water are evident throughout the basin, impacts to groundwater are more evident in southeastern and northern regions.
Researchers used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to simulate three phenomena: the Pacific decadal oscillation, the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature gradient, and the west Pacific warm pool sea surface temperature variability. Simulations included average and extreme magnitudes of the phenomena as observed between 1949 and 2010.

As the largest river basin in the United States, the Missouri River basin provides water for various purposes to part or all of 10 US states and two Canadian provinces. The basin is one of the most agriculturally important regions in the US and the world.
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