Measuring Streamflows

An employee with a measuring device standing in a creek
Park Hydrologist Erin White taking high-precision water velocity measurements in Reese Creek.

Did you know scientists have been routinely measuring streamflows within Yellowstone since the 1880's? Streamflow (discharge) is the volume of water that moves past a reference point over a period of time. This data helps answer management questions related to water availability, water quality, ecological conditions, infrastructure design and maintenance, hazards, climate change, and water rights. It also lets visitors know when it’s time to pull out their fishing rod and waders each year.

“Taking streamflow measurements is comparable to taking the pulse of a river. It’s rewarding to think about how the pulses measured in a small wadable creek or river in the park will be propagated downstream and affect the ecological conditions of a nationwide river network. Water not only touches every aspect of our resources and operations in Yellowstone, it moves across the park boundaries and impacts communities and ecosystems several thousand miles away.” - Park Hydrologist Erin White

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Last updated: May 5, 2021

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