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Implications of the 2015–2016 El Niño on Coastal Mississippi-Alabama Streamflow and Agriculture

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Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
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Department of Geography, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
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School of Earth Ocean and the Environment, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29440, UAS
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, UAS
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Hydrology 2019, 6(4), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology6040096
Received: 27 July 2019 / Revised: 14 September 2019 / Accepted: 30 September 2019 / Published: 19 November 2019
In this paper, we evaluate the impacts of historic strong El Niño events on the coastal Mississippi-Alabama (MS-AL) hydroclimate. The normal physical association is that the increase in soil moisture, as a result of greater precipitation, is also associated with increased streamflow. When compared to the historic (1960–2015) long-term average, January through August streamflow volumes for five unimpaired streamflow gages located in coastal MS-AL exhibit an average increase of ~20% following a strong El Niño event. This overall increase was due to above-average precipitation during the winter-spring (January through April) season, with the corresponding average increase in streamflow volume for the five gages ~32%. In evaluating the temporal (monthly) variability of streamflow, we observe that the summer (June through August) season was dry following strong El Niño events, with streamflow volumes for the five gages decreasing by an average of ~21%. The agricultural industry in coastal MS-AL produces a variety of crops including cotton and peanuts. The typical planting season for these crops ends in mid-June with harvesting occurring in early September. Thus, the primary growing season for these crops is June–August. Given the lack of impoundments and irrigated lands in coastal MS-AL, the agricultural sector would be severely impacted by an El Niño driven drier summer. When evaluating the influence of the 2015–2016 El Niño on January through August 2016 streamflow, a similar pattern was observed in which high winter–spring streamflow was followed by diminished summer streamflow. View Full-Text
Keywords: El Niño Southern Oscillation; MS-AL streamflow; cotton; peanut El Niño Southern Oscillation; MS-AL streamflow; cotton; peanut
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T. Sadeghi, S.; Tootle, G.; Elliott, E.; Lakshmi, V.; Therrell, M.; Kalra, A. Implications of the 2015–2016 El Niño on Coastal Mississippi-Alabama Streamflow and Agriculture. Hydrology 2019, 6, 96.

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