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A volumetric water budget of Devils Lake (USA): non-stationary precipitation–runoff relationships in an amplifier terminal lake

Todhunter, Paul E.
Hydrological sciences journal 2018 v.63 no.9 pp. 1275-1291
basins, climate change, drying, lakes, runoff, water budget, watersheds, wetlands, North Dakota
Devils Lake, a terminal lake in eastern North Dakota, rose more than 9 m between 1992 and 2013, producing a 286% increase in lake area, and causing more than US$1 billion in direct damages. An annual volumetric lake water budget is developed from monthly hydroclimatological variables for the period 1951–2010 to investigate the rapid lake expansion. The lake is an amplifier terminal lake in which long-term climatic changes are amplified by positive feedback mechanisms, causing the lake to transition from a precipitation-dominated to a runoff-dominated water budget. Factors specific to the Devils Lake Basin further amplify this positive feedback relationship. These include principles of fill–spill hydrology that operate between individual sub-basins within the closed basin, and between the innumerable wetland complexes within each sub-basin. These factors create a pronounced non-stationary precipitation–runoff relationship in the basin during both long-term wetting and drying phases.