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Continued decrease of open surface water body area in Oklahoma during 1984–2015

Zou, Zhenhua, Dong, Jinwei, Menarguez, Michael A., Xiao, Xiangming, Qin, Yuanwei, Doughty, Russell B., Hooker, Katherine V., David Hambright, K.
The Science of the total environment 2016
Landsat, climate, climate change, drying, lakes, public water supply, recreation, risk, surface water, temperature, tourism, Oklahoma
Oklahoma contains the largest number of manmade lakes and reservoirs in the United States. Despite the importance of these open surface water bodies to public water supply, agriculture, thermoelectric power, tourism and recreation, it is unclear how these water bodies have responded to climate change and anthropogenic water exploitation in past decades. In this study, we used all available Landsat 5 and 7 images (16,000 scenes) from 1984 through 2015 and a water index- and pixel-based approach to analyze the spatial-temporal variability of open surface water bodies and its relationship with climate and water exploitation. Specifically, the areas and numbers of four water body extents (the maximum, year-long, seasonal, and average extents) were analyzed to capture variations in water body area and number. Statistically significant downward trends were found in the maximum, year-long, and annual average water body areas from 1984 through 2015. Furthermore, these decreases were mainly attributed to the continued shrinking of large water bodies (>1km2). There were also significant decreases in maximum and year-long water body numbers, which suggested that some of the water bodies were vanishing year by year. However, remarkable inter-annual variations of water body area and number were also found. Both water body area and number were positively related to precipitation, and negatively related to temperature. Surface water withdrawals mainly influenced the year-long water bodies. The smaller water bodies have a higher risk of drying under a drier climate, which suggests that small water bodies are more vulnerable under climate-warming senarios.