Linking Streamflow Trends with Land Cover Change in a Southern US Water Tower

Streamflow conditions, and trends thereof, are critical drivers of all aspects of stream geomorphology, sediment and nutrient transport, and ecology. Using the non-parametric Mann-Kendall test, we analyzed annual streamflow trends from 1996 to 2021 for the Southern Appalachian region. The forested highlands receive high amounts of rain and act as a “water tower” for the surrounding lowland area, both of which have experienced higher than average population growth and urban development. For a total of 178 available streamflow gages, we also evaluated land change rates and patterns within the upstream contributing areas. Statistical methods (i.e. generalized linear models) are then used to assess any linkages between land cover change (LUCC) and streamflow trends. With this information, water managers would be aware of which areas are experiencing changes in streamflow amounts from LUCC, and could then apply this in planning and predictions.