Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-220
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-220

  06 Jul 2020

06 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Quantifying the impact of land cover changes on hydrological extremes in India

Shaini Naha, Miguel A. Rico-Ramirez, and Rafael Rosolem Shaini Naha et al.
  • Civil Engineering Department, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TR, UK

Abstract. Several research studies have addressed the effects of future climate changes on the hydrological regime of Mahanadi river basin located in eastern part of India. However, studies investigating the effects of future land cover changes on hydrology are limited owing to the lack of availability of projected land cover scenarios. Our study investigates how the hydrology of Mahanadi river basin would respond to the current and future land cover scenarios under a large-scale hydrological modelling framework. Both historical and future land cover scenarios from the recently released, Land use Harmonisation (LUH2) project for CMIP6, indicates cropland and forest are the major land cover types in the basin with a noticeable increase in the cropland (23.3 %) at the expense of forest (22.65 %) by the end of year 2100 compared to the baseline year, 2005. A physically semi-distributed model, the Variable Infiltration Capacity has been set up and implemented over the Mahanadi river basin system for the time period 1990–2010. The uncertain model parameters were subjected to Sensitivity Analysis and calibrated within a Monte Carlo framework. The best set of calibrated models obtained is used in conjunction with the harmonized set of present and future land use scenarios from LUH2 at 25 km by 25 km resolution to generate an ensemble of model simulations that captures a range of plausible impacts of land cover changes on discharge and other hydrological components of the basin. Overall, model simulation results indicate an increase in the extreme flows (i.e., 95th percentile or higher) in the range of 0.12 to 21 % at multiple subcatchments within the basin. This increase can be attributed to the direct conversion of forested areas to agriculture (on the order of 30,000 km2) that has reduced the Leaf Area Index and subsequently reduces the Evapotranspiration (ET). These changes ultimately affect other water balance components at the land surface, resulting in an increase in surface runoff and baseflow, respectively.

Shaini Naha et al.

 
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Shaini Naha et al.

Shaini Naha et al.

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Short summary
Rapid growth in population in developing countries leads to an increase in food demand and as a consequence, percentages of land are being converted to cropland which alters the river flow processes. Therefore we try to understand the exact role of these changes in modifying the river flows through the prediction of the impacts of these changes in the future by taking a clue from the past. This study concludes that recurrent flood events might be influenced by these changes in future.