Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Bierman, Paul


This study analyzes temporal trends and periodicity in seventy years of publicly available stream discharge and climate data for the Winooski River Basin of northern Vermont as well as lake level data for adjacent Lake Champlain. We also use random sampling and manual, point-based classification of recent and historical aerial imagery to quantify land use change over the past seventy years in the 2,704 km2 Winooski River Basin of northern Vermont. We find a general increase in annual precipitation, discharge, and mean lake level with time in the basin; discharge increases 18% over the period of record while precipitation increases by 14%. Over the last 70 years, mean annual temperature has increased at the Burlington Vermont station by 0.78 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Four sets of aerial photographs, taken at intervals of 12 to 29 years between 1937 and 2003 at thirty randomly selected sites, demonstrate that actively cleared land area has decreased by 14%, while forested land and impervious surfaces increased by 10% and 5%, respectively. Spectral analysis of precipitation, discharge and lake level data show a ~7.6 year periodicity, which is in phase with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); higher than average precipitation and discharge are most likely when the NAO is in a positive mode. The NAO relationship demonstrates that discharge is largely controlled by precipitation; anthropogenic changing climate and changing land use over the past 70 years appear to have subtly changed the seasonality of discharge and caused an increase in base flow.