that only flow part of the time, whether after large rain storms or snowmelt. We appreciate these steams when they are flowing and tend to overlook them when they are dry. However, the importance of these small streams These smaller streams make up 50-70% of stream river miles globally. The flow in these channels can be critical to aquatic habitat, downstream water quality, and improving water supply forecasting. However, we know very little about when and where these streams are flowing.


Research questions

  • Where are streams perennial (flowing continuously), and where are they intermittent (discontinuous flow)?

  • What causes streams to be intermittent?

  • How has streamflow intermittence changed over time?

  • Can better understanding of streamflow intermittence improve stream mapping?

Program components

  • Citizen science: engage the community in tracking when and where water is flowing

  • Sensor network: Maintain a network of streamflow sensors to track how streams change over time

  • Remote sensing: Develop methods for detecting streamflow patterns using aircraft and satellite images


Why is this important?

  • Every large river is fed by smaller streams that only flow after large rain storms or snowmelt. While these streams look dry and lifeless much of the time, they often support diverse aquatic life when they flow. By improving our understanding of these streams, we can help improve streamflow forecasting to predict water supply and flood risk. Better maps of small streams can also aid land use planning, habitat assessments, and wetland delineation.

© 2020 by Stream Tracker. 

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