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Changes in Anthropogenic Impervious Surfaces, Precipitation and Daily Streamflow Discharge: A Historical Perspective in a Mid-Atlantic Sub-Watershed

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Abstract:

Aerial photography provides a historical vehicle for determining long term urban landscape change and, with concurrent daily streamflow and precipitation records, allows the historical relationship of impervious surfaces and streamflow to be explored. Impervious surface area in the upper Accotink Creek subwatershed was mapped from six dates of rectified historical aerial photography ranging from 1949 to 1994. Results show that anthropogenic impervious surface area has grown from approximately 3% in 1949 to 33% in 1994. Coincident to this time period, analysis of historical mean daily streamflow rate shows a statistically significant increase in standardized streamflow discharge rates (per meter of precipitation) associated with "normal" and "extreme" daily precipitation thresholds. Simultaneously, the magnitude and frequency of "normal" and "extreme" precipitation events show no statistically significant change. Historical changes in streamflow discharge rate in this basin appear to be related to increases in impervious surface cover. Historical aerial photography is a viable tool for revealing long-term landscape and ecosystem relationships, and allows landscape investigations to extend beyond the temporal and spatial constraints of historical satellite remote sensing data.

The views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The manuscript was prepared by scientists in EPAs Office of Research and Development (ORD) and has been administratively reviewed and approved for publication. Mention of trade names does not constitute endorsement or recommendation.
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Citation:Jennings, D. B., and S. T. Jarnagin. Changes in Anthropogenic Impervious Surfaces, Precipitation and Daily Streamflow Discharge: A Historical Perspective in a Mid-Atlantic Sub-Watershed. LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY 17(5):471-489, (2002).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Landscape Ecology Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 09/22/2002
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Landscape Indicators of Surface Water Conditions
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