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Title: Quantifying and Generalizing Hydrologic Responses to Dam Regulation using a Statistical Modeling Approach

Despite the ubiquitous existence of dams within riverscapes, much of our knowledge about dams and their environmental effects remains context-specific. Hydrology, more than any other environmental variable, has been studied in great detail with regard to dam regulation. While much progress has been made in generalizing the hydrologic effects of regulation by large dams, many aspects of hydrology show site-specific fidelity to dam operations, small dams (including diversions), and regional hydrologic regimes. A statistical modeling framework is presented to quantify and generalize hydrologic responses to varying degrees of dam regulation. Specifically, the objectives were to 1) compare the effects of local versus cumulative dam regulation, 2) determine the importance of different regional hydrologic regimes in influencing hydrologic responses to dams, and 3) evaluate how different regulation contexts lead to error in predicting hydrologic responses to dams. Overall, model performance was poor in quantifying the magnitude of hydrologic responses, but performance was sufficient in classifying hydrologic responses as negative or positive. Responses of some hydrologic indices to dam regulation were highly dependent upon hydrologic class membership and the purpose of the dam. The opposing coefficients between local and cumulative-dam predictors suggested that hydrologic responses to cumulative dam regulation are complex, andmore » predicting the hydrology downstream of individual dams, as opposed to multiple dams, may be more easy accomplished using statistical approaches. Results also suggested that particular contexts, including multipurpose dams, high cumulative regulation by multiple dams, diversions, close proximity to dams, and certain hydrologic classes are all sources of increased error when predicting hydrologic responses to dams. Statistical models, such as the ones presented herein, show promise in their ability to model the effects of dam regulation effects at large spatial scales as to generalize the directionality of hydrologic responses.« less
  1. ORNL
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Hydrology; Journal Volume: 519
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
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Country of Publication:
United States
stream flow; environmental flow; hydrologic classification