INITIAL FINDINGS FROM A NETWORK OF STREAM GAUGES ON HEADWATER STREAMS IN THE NORTH CAROLINA PIEDMONT
Many of the streams we studied were very flashy with peak flows as much as five orders of magnitude higher than base flow. Predictably, streams draining more developed drainage basins tended to be flashier than forested drainage basins. However, forested drainage basins also exhibited flashy behavior during the winter months indicating that vegetation plays a large role in slowing water flowing and utilizing shallow groundwater. We also find that stream temperature is significantly impacted by land use with suburban drainages often one full degree warmer than more natural drainages. Regardless of land use, most drainages are efficient enough that rate of precipitation is a stronger indicator of discharge than amount of precipitation. Overall, while we have just begun to examine the very large dataset being collected, it is clear that headwater streams are very responsive to precipitation and land use changes. In fact, headwater streams may be the most impacted by development in the Piedmont because of their immediate response to precipitation events.