McNair Scholars Research Journal


Understanding how stream flow in rivers across Michigan is responding to climate change is important because rivers are used for hydroelectricity, recreation, fisheries, and many people own property along them. Michigan’s annual rainfall has increased by three inches since 1940 and is expected to increase by 0.036 inches/year through the 21st century due to climate change. In this study, I test the hypothesis that increased rainfall will lead to more frequent flooding along Michigan’s rivers. I do so by analyzing river discharge data and flow-duration curves from a stream gaging station on the Pere Marquette River, the largest undammed river in Michigan. Results from this study show that the discharge on the Pere Marquette River was ≥1,643 cfs for 27 days and increased 6-fold to 164 days in the 1990s and 2000s. It is likely that other natural rivers in Michigan might also show increases in the historical 1.5 year discharge associated with them and that discharge with the 1% exceedance probability might also increase.