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Climate and Rivers

McGregor, Glenn R.

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Over the last few decades as hydrologists have slowly raised their line of sight above the watershed boundary, it has become increasingly recognised that what happens in the atmosphere, as a major source of moisture for the terrestrial branch of the hydrological cycle, can strongly influence river dynamics at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Notwithstanding this, there is still a tendency for some in the river research community to restrict their gaze to the river channel or floodplain. However Geoff Petts, the person to which this special issue is dedicated, understood well and widely encouraged a holistic view of river catchment processes. This included an acknowledgment of the role of climate, in its broadest sense, in shaping what happens within and without the river channel. The purpose of this paper therefore is to offer a broad overview of the role of some aspects of climate science in advancing knowledge in river research. Topics to be addressed include the role of climate in influencing river flow regimes, a consideration of the large scale climate mechanisms that drive hydrological variability within river basins at inter-annual to decadal timescales and atmospheric rivers and their link to surface hydrology. In reviewing these topics a number of key knowledge gaps have emerged including attributing the causes of river flow regime changes to any one particular cause, the non-stationary and asymmetric forcing of river regimes by modes of climate variability and establishing links between atmospheric rivers, and terrestrial river channel processes, fluvial habitats, and ecological change.


McGregor, G. R. (2019). Climate and Rivers. River Research and Applications, 35(8), 1119-1140.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 9, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 2, 2019
Publication Date Oct 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jul 15, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 2, 2020
Journal River Research and Applications
Print ISSN 1535-1459
Electronic ISSN 1535-1467
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 8
Pages 1119-1140


Accepted Journal Article (559 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: McGregor, G., R. (2019). Climate and Rivers. River Research and Applications 35(8): 1119-1140, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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