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Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5053

Trends in Annual, Seasonal, and Monthly Streamflow Characteristics at 227 Streamgages in the Missouri River Watershed, Water Years 1960–2011

By Parker A. Norton, Mark T. Anderson, and John F. Stamm

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (31.7 MB)Abstract

The Missouri River and its tributaries are an important resource that serve multiple uses including agriculture, energy, recreation, and municipal water supply. Understanding historical streamflow characteristics provides relevant guidance to adaptive management of these water resources. Streamflow records in the Missouri River watershed were examined for trends in time series of annual, seasonal, and monthly streamflow. A total of 227 streamgages having continuous observational records for water years 1960–2011 were examined. Kendall’s tau nonparametric test was used to determine statistical significance of trends in annual, seasonal, and monthly streamflow. A trend was considered statistically significant for a probability value less than or equal to 0.10 that the Kendall’s tau value equals zero. Significant trends in annual streamflow were indicated for 101 out of a total of 227 streamgages. The Missouri River watershed was divided into six watershed regions and trends within regions were examined. The western and the southern parts of the Missouri River watershed had downward trends in annual streamflow (56 streamgages), whereas the eastern part of the watershed had upward trends in streamflow (45 streamgages). Seasonal and monthly streamflow trends reflected prevailing annual streamflow trends within each watershed region.

First posted June 30, 2014

For additional information, contact:
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U.S. Geological Survey
1608 Mountain View Road
Rapid City, South Dakota 57702

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Suggested citation:

Norton, P.A., Anderson, M.T., and Stamm, J.F., 2014, Trends in annual, seasonal, and monthly streamflow characteristics at 227 streamgages in the Missouri River watershed, water years 1960–2011: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5053, 128 p.,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)





Trends in Annual, Seasonal, and Monthly Streamflow

Trends by Watershed Regions

Synthesis of Trends


References Cited


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