Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

Nicolas Zegre

Committee Co-Chair

Timothy Warner

Committee Member

Timothy Warner

Committee Member

Michael Strager

Committee Member

Eungul Lee

Committee Member

Charlene Kelly


This research investigated the impact of climate and land cover on water balance components including evapotranspiration and runoff in the mountainous central Appalachian region of the United States. The first studyanalyzed trends in climatologic, hydrologic, and growing season length variables, identified the important variables effecting growing season length changes, and evaluated the influence of a lengthened growing season on increasing evapotranspiration trends. The results showed that growing season length has increased, on average, by ~22 days and evapotranspiration has increased ~12 mm. The second study quantified long-term historical and future climate trends, evaluated water balance sensitivity to change, and quantified future runoff. The results showed that streamflow sensitivity increased with decreasing precipitation throughout the region and future runoff is projected to increase between 9-17% throughout the region. The third study examined the regional and local spatial relationships between climate variables and evapotranspiration trends throughout the central Appalachian region. The results showed that vapor pressure deficit, precipitation and temperature were found to have the most significant relationship with ET. At the 4 km2scale, vapor pressure deficit was found to have the strongest relationship. Results from this research provide important information for runoff and evapotranspiration prediction modelling and preventative forest management measures to minimize future water resource concerns and maintain stable drinking water supplies to downstream communities.