The Influence of Climate on Lower Colorado Streamflow Variability

Warming temperatures are an increasingly important control on streamflow and surface water supplies. This has been demonstrated in the upper Colorado River basin, but studies have not yet investigated the impact of temperatures on the streamflow in the lower Colorado River basin (LCRB). In the three major tributaries of the LCRB—the Salt, Verde, and Gila Rivers—snow deposition areas are at lower elevations than in the upper Colorado River basin, and temperature could play a more significant role in mediating how much precipitation ends up as streamflow. An additional factor that has not been fully investigated is the role of the monsoon’s contribution to streamflow, and how warming temperatures may affect that contribution.

The overarching goal of this study is to evaluate the seasonal climatic components that control surface water supplies in the lower Colorado basin, with a specific focus on the influence of temperature on annual streamflow in recent decades.

The project is designed to investigate questions and produce scientific results that are meaningful and useful for decision makers in the LCRB. To achieve that goal, the project team is seeking to identify interested resource management partners in the LCRB who would like to collaborate in shaping a research agenda that addresses climatic controls on surface water supplies in the lower basin in a way that is most relevant to resource management.

Project Web Site



Science to Support Decision Making: The Influence of Climate on Lower Colorado Streamflow Variability

Upper Lake Mary: Lake Level Response to Climate Variability, Presentation to Flagstaff Water Services

Fact Sheets


Woodhouse, C.A. and B. Udall. 2022. Arid land rivers in a changing climate. Earth Interactions 1, 1-14.

Project information

This project is part of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), with additional support from the DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (Agreement number G17AP00099).

Project PI's are Connie Woodhouse and Dan Ferguson

For more information, contact Connie Woodhouse (e-mail: )