Articles | Volume 21, issue 3
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 1455–1475, 2017
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 1455–1475, 2017

Research article 09 Mar 2017

Research article | 09 Mar 2017

Impacts of future deforestation and climate change on the hydrology of the Amazon Basin: a multi-model analysis with a new set of land-cover change scenarios

Matthieu Guimberteau1, Philippe Ciais1, Agnès Ducharne2, Juan Pablo Boisier3, Ana Paula Dutra Aguiar4, Hester Biemans5, Hannes De Deurwaerder6, David Galbraith7, Bart Kruijt5, Fanny Langerwisch8, German Poveda9, Anja Rammig8,10, Daniel Andres Rodriguez11, Graciela Tejada4, Kirsten Thonicke8, Celso Von Randow4, Rita C. S. Von Randow4, Ke Zhang12, and Hans Verbeeck6 Matthieu Guimberteau et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Sorbonne Universités, UPMC, CNRS, EPHE – UMR7619 METIS, 75252 Paris, France
  • 3Department of Geophysics, Universidad de Chile, and Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR2), Santiago, Chile
  • 4Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Av dos Astronautas 1758, 12227-010, São José dos Campos, Brazil
  • 5Wageningen University & Research (Alterra), Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 6CAVElab – Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 7School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 8Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), P.O. Box 60 12 03, Telegraphenberg A62, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
  • 9School of Geosciences and Environment, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín, Colombia
  • 10TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Land Surface–Atmosphere Interactions, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany
  • 11Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Rodovia Presidente Dutra km 39, CP 01, CEP: 12630-000, Cachoeira Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 12State Key Laboratory of Hydrology–Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, and College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, 1 Xikang Road, Nanjing, China

Abstract. Deforestation in Amazon is expected to decrease evapotranspiration (ET) and to increase soil moisture and river discharge under prevailing energy-limited conditions. The magnitude and sign of the response of ET to deforestation depend both on the magnitude and regional patterns of land-cover change (LCC), as well as on climate change and CO2 levels. On the one hand, elevated CO2 decreases leaf-scale transpiration, but this effect could be offset by increased foliar area density. Using three regional LCC scenarios specifically established for the Brazilian and Bolivian Amazon, we investigate the impacts of climate change and deforestation on the surface hydrology of the Amazon Basin for this century, taking 2009 as a reference. For each LCC scenario, three land surface models (LSMs), LPJmL-DGVM, INLAND-DGVM and ORCHIDEE, are forced by bias-corrected climate simulated by three general circulation models (GCMs) of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4). On average, over the Amazon Basin with no deforestation, the GCM results indicate a temperature increase of 3.3 °C by 2100 which drives up the evaporative demand, whereby precipitation increases by 8.5 %, with a large uncertainty across GCMs. In the case of no deforestation, we found that ET and runoff increase by 5.0 and 14 %, respectively. However, in south-east Amazonia, precipitation decreases by 10 % at the end of the dry season and the three LSMs produce a 6 % decrease of ET, which is less than precipitation, so that runoff decreases by 22 %. For instance, the minimum river discharge of the Rio Tapajós is reduced by 31 % in 2100. To study the additional effect of deforestation, we prescribed to the LSMs three contrasted LCC scenarios, with a forest decline going from 7 to 34 % over this century. All three scenarios partly offset the climate-induced increase of ET, and runoff increases over the entire Amazon. In the south-east, however, deforestation amplifies the decrease of ET at the end of dry season, leading to a large increase of runoff (up to +27 % in the extreme deforestation case), offsetting the negative effect of climate change, thus balancing the decrease of low flows in the Rio Tapajós. These projections are associated with large uncertainties, which we attribute separately to the differences in LSMs, GCMs and to the uncertain range of deforestation. At the subcatchment scale, the uncertainty range on ET changes is shown to first depend on GCMs, while the uncertainty of runoff projections is predominantly induced by LSM structural differences. By contrast, we found that the uncertainty in both ET and runoff changes attributable to uncertain future deforestation is low.