Geological and climatic controls on streamflows in the Nebraska Sand Hills

Xun-Hong Chen, Xunhong Chen, Clinton Rowe, Qi Hu, Mark Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This paper presents hydrological characteristics of the streamflow of the Dismal, Middle Loup, North Loup, and Cedar Rivers in the Nebraska Sand Hills and their relation to climate and ground water variation. Time series of streamflow, precipitation, temperature, and ground water levels from 1976 to 1998 were used to analyze trends and fluctuations of streamflow and to determine relationships among streamflow, climate, and the ground water system. An increase of precipitation and a decrease of maximum temperature over the period resulted in higher ground water levels and increased streamflow in the region. The high permeability of the soil and the thick unsaturated zone enhance precipitation recharge, limit surface runoff, and prevent ground water losses through evapotranspiration. Thus, an abundance of ground water is stored, supplying more than 86 percent of streamflow in the four rivers. Streamflow is generally more constant in the Sand Hills than elsewhere in the region. The four rivers present different hydrologic characteristics because of the spatial heterogeneity in hydrogeologic conditions. Streamflow of the Dismal and Middle Rivers, which are less sensitive to climatic variation, is much steadier than that of the North Loup and Cedar Rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Climate variation
  • Ground water accumulation
  • Hydrogeology
  • Sand Hills
  • Statistical analysis
  • Streamflow fluctuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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