Sensitivity of River Discharge to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 37, 2010

Philip J. Ward, Wisse Beets, Laurens M. Bouwer, Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, and Hans Renssen

“El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has significant impacts on streamflows around the world. While many studies have assessed correlations, an assessment of the magnitude of this impact is lacking, and little is known of ENSO’s impact on extreme discharges. We use a daily discharge dataset to provide a global assessment of the sensitivity of annual mean and flood discharges to ENSO, and a gridded climate dataset to assess the global impact of ENSO on precipitation and temperature. We find that, on average, for the stations studied ENSO has a greater impact on annual high-flow events than on mean annual discharge, especially in the extra-tropics. The quantification of ENSO impacts provides relevant information for water-management, allowing the identification of problem areas and providing a basis for risk assessments.”

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