Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography & Geographic Information Science

First Advisor

Paul E. Todhunter


Since 1993, Devils Lake in North Dakota has experienced a prolonged rise in lake level and flooding of the lake’s neighboring areas within the closed basin system. Understanding the relative contribution of climate change and land use change is needed to explain the historical rise in lake level, and to evaluate the potential impact of anthropogenic climate change upon future lake conditions and management. Four methodologies were considered to examine the relative contribution of climatic and human landscape drivers to streamflow variations: statistical, ecohydrologic, physically-based modeling, and elasticity of streamflow; for this study, ecohydrologic and climate elasticity were selected. Agricultural statistics determined that Towner and Ramsey counties underwent a crop conversion from small grains to row crops within the last 30 years. Through the Topographic Wetness Index (TWI), a 10 meter resolution DEM confirmed the presence of innumerable wetland depressions within the non-contributing area of the Mauvais Coulee Sub-basin. Although the ecohydrologic and climate elasticity methodologies are the most commonly used in literature, they make assumptions that are not applicable to basin conditions. A modified and more informed approach to the use of these methods was applied to account for these unique sub-basin characteristics. Ultimately, hydroclimatic variability was determined as the largest driver to streamflow variation in Mauvais Coulee and Devils Lake.