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Mountain hydrology of the western United States


Climate change and climate variability, population growth, and land use change drive the need for new hydrologic knowledge and understanding. In the mountainous West and other similar areas worldwide, three pressing hydrologic needs stand out: first, to better understand the processes controlling the partitioning of energy and water fluxes within and out from these systems; second, to better understand feedbacks between hydrological fluxes and biogeochemical and ecological processes; and, third, to enhance our physical and empirical understanding with integrated measurement strategies and information systems. We envision an integrative approach to monitoring, modeling, and sensing the mountain environment that will improve understanding and prediction of hydrologic fluxes and processes. Here extensive monitoring of energy fluxes and hydrologic states are needed to supplement existing measurements, which are largely limited to streamflow and snow water equivalent. Ground-based observing systems must be explicitly designed for integration with remotely sensed data and for scaling up to basins and whole ranges. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.

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