Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1051
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-1051
 
19 Oct 2022
19 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Historical Analysis of Reservoir Storage Trends and Resilience Across Contiguous US from 1980–2019

Jennie C. Steyaert and Laura E. Condon Jennie C. Steyaert and Laura E. Condon
  • Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, 85705, USA

Abstract. All major river systems in the Contiguous United States (CONUS) are impacted by dams. Many regional and global studies have looked at reservoir resilience to extreme events and quantified static characteristics, yet analysis of historical reservoir operations has been limited by a lack of data. Here we use the first national dataset of historical reservoir operations in CONUS, ResOpsUS, to analyze reservoir storage trends and operations over the last 40 years. We characterized seasonal operating patterns and show clear regional trends. In the eastern US which is dominated by flood control storage we see that storage peaks in the winter months with sharper decreases in operational range in the summer. While in the more arid western US where storage is predominantly for irrigation, we find that storage peaks during the spring and summer with increases in the operational range during the summer months. The Lower Colorado region is an outlier because it is arid and dominate by irrigation, but its seasonal storage dynamics more closely mirrored that of flood control basins. Consistent with previous studies we show that reservoir storage has decreased over the past 40 years, although our national fraction filled decreases are 50 % less than those shown previously. We also find that declines are occurring faster in more arid regions. Operational ranges (i.e. the difference between monthly max and min storage) have been increasing over time in more arid regions and decreasing in more humid regions. We also quantified hydrologic drought using the standardized streamflow index (SSI) and compared time it took for reservoir storage (expressed as anomalies in fraction filled) and SSI to recover. As would be expected, we see longer drought periods and more prolonged negative reservoir storage anomalies in the more arid basins. That said, nearly all regions have we show that the reservoir storage takes longer to recover from drought that the streamflow.

Jennie C. Steyaert and Laura E. Condon

Status: open (until 21 Dec 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1051', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Nov 2022 reply

Jennie C. Steyaert and Laura E. Condon

Data sets

ResOpsUS Jennie C. Steyaert, Laura E., Condon, Sean W. D. Turner, Nathalie Voisin https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5367383

Model code and software

ResOpsUS_Analysis Jennie C. Steyaert, Laura E. Condon https://github.com/jsteyaert/ResOpsUS_Analysis

Jennie C. Steyaert and Laura E. Condon

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Short summary
All river systems in the US are impacted by dams, yet analyses are limited by a lack of data. We use the first national dataset of reservoir data to analyze reservoir storage trends from 1980–2019. We show that reservoir storage has decreased over the past 40 years. The range in monthly storage has increased over time in drier regions and decreased in wetter ones. Lastly, we find that most regions have reservoir storage that takes longer to recover from and are therefore more vulnerable.