Articles | Volume 15, issue 4
Research article
21 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 21 Apr 2011

El Niño-Southern Oscillation and water resources in the headwaters region of the Yellow River: links and potential for forecasting

A. Lü, S. Jia, W. Zhu, H. Yan, S. Duan, and Z. Yao

Abstract. This research explores the rainfall-El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and runoff-ENSO relationships and examines the potential for water resource forecasting using these relationships. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Niño1.2, Niño3, Niño4, and Niño3.4 were selected as ENSO indicators for cross-correlation analyses of precipitation and runoff. There was a significant correlation (95% confidence level) between precipitation and ENSO indicators during three periods: January, March, and from September to November. In addition, monthly streamflow and monthly ENSO indictors were significantly correlated during three periods: from January to March, June, and from October to December (OND), with lag periods between one and twelve months. Because ENSO events can be accurately predicted one to two years in advance using physical modeling of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, the lead time for forecasting runoff using ENSO indicators in the Headwaters Region of the Yellow River could extend from one to 36 months. Therefore, ENSO may have potential as a powerful forecasting tool for water resources in the headwater regions of Yellow River.