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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hessd-10-9477-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hessd-10-9477-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  18 Jul 2013

18 Jul 2013

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This preprint was under review for the journal HESS but the revision was not accepted.

Impacts of human activities and climate variability on green and blue water flows in the Heihe River Basin in Northwest China

C. Zang1, J. Liu1, L. Jiang2, and D. Gerten3 C. Zang et al.
  • 1School of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Qinghua East Road 35, Haidian District, Beijing, 100083, China
  • 2Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
  • 3Research Domain 1: Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegraphenberg A62, 14473 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Human activities and climate factors both affect the availability of water resources and the sustainability of water management. Especially in already dry regions, water has become more and more scarce with increasing requirements from growing population, economic development and diet shifts. Although progress has been made in understanding variability of runoff, the impacts of climate variability and human activities on flows of both green water (actual evapotranspiration) and blue water (discharge accumulated in the river network) remain less well understood. We study the spatial patterns of blue and green water flows and the impacts on them of human activities and climate variability as simulated by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) for an inland Heihe river basin located in Northwest China. The results show that total green and blue water flow increased from 1980 to 2005, mainly as a result of climate variability (upward precipitation trends). Direct human activities did not significantly change the total green and blue water flow. However, land use change led to a transformation of 206 million m3 from green to blue water flow, while farmland irrigation expansion resulted in a transformation of 66 million m3 from blue to green water flow. The synchronous climate variability caused an increase of green water flow by 469 million m3 and an increase of blue water flow by 146 million m3 at the river basin level, while the geographical distribution showed an uneven change even with reductions of water flows in western sub-basins at midstream. The results are helpful to benchmark the water resources in the context of global change in the inland river basins in China. This study also provides a general approach to investigate the impacts of historical human activities and climate variability on green and blue water flows at the river basin level.

C. Zang et al.

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