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Siyu Zhao
Rong Fu
Yizhou Zhuang
, and
Gaoyun Wang


We have developed two statistical models for extended seasonal predictions of the upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) natural streamflow during April–July: a stepwise linear regression (reduced to a simple regression with one predictor) and a neural network model. Monthly, basin-averaged soil moisture, snow water equivalent (SWE), precipitation, and the Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) are selected as potential predictors. Pacific SST predictors (PSPs) are derived from a dipole pattern over the Pacific (30°S–65°N) that is correlated with the lagging streamflow. For both models, the correlation between the hindcasted and observed streamflow exceeds 0.60 for lead times less than 4 months using soil moisture, SWE, and precipitation as predictors. This correlation is higher than that of an autoregression model (correlation ~ 0.50). Since these land surface and atmospheric variables have no statistically significant correlations with the streamflow, PSPs are then incorporated into the models. The two models have a correlation of ~0.50 using PSPs alone for lead times from 6 to 9 months, and such skills are probably associated with stronger correlation between SST and streamflow in recent decades. The similar prediction skills between the two models suggest a largely linear system between SST and streamflow. Four predictors together can further improve short-lead prediction skills (correlation ~ 0.80). Therefore, our results confirm the advantage of the Pacific SST information in predicting the UCRB streamflow with a long lead time and can provide useful climate information for water supply planning and decisions.

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