Seeing the climate through the trees: observing climate and forestry impacts on streamflow using a 60-year record

T. P. Burt*, N. J. K. Howden, J. J. McDonnell, J. A. Jones, G. R. Hancock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Paired watershed experiments involving the removal or manipulation of forest cover in one of the watersheds have been conducted for more than a century to quantify the impact of forestry operations on streamflow. Because climate variability is expected to be large, forestry treatment effects would be undetectable without the treatment-control comparison. New understanding of climate variability provides an opportunity to examine whether climate variability interacts with forestry treatments, in a predictable manner. Here, we use data from the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon, USA, to examine the impact of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation on streamflow linked to forest harvesting. Our results show that the contrast between El Nino and La Nina events is so large that, whatever the state of the treated watershed in terms of regrowth of the forest canopy, extreme climatic variability related to El Nino-Southern Oscillation remains the more dominant driver of streamflow response at this location. Improvements in forecasting interannual variation in climate might be used to minimize the impact of forestry treatments on streamflow by avoiding initial operations in La Nina years. Copyright (C) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2015


  • paired watershed
  • forest hydrology
  • ENSO
  • H. J. Andrews


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