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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/hess-2020-336
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-336
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Jul 2020

21 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Quantification of Ecohydrological Sensitivities and Their Influencing Factors at the Seasonal Scale

Yiping Hou1, Mingfang Zhang2,3, Xiaohua Wei1, Shirong Liu4, Qiang Li5, Tijiu Cai6, Wenfei Liu7, Runqi Zhao8, and Xiangzhuo Liu9 Yiping Hou et al.
  • 1Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences, University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus), 1177 Research Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 1V7, Canada
  • 2School of Resources and Environment, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, 611731, China
  • 3Center for Information Geoscience, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, 611731, China
  • 4Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, 100091, China
  • 5Department of Civil Engineering, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 6Department of Forestry, School of Forestry, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China
  • 7Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory for Restoration of Degraded Ecosystems & Watershed Ecohydrology, Nanchang Institute of Technology, Nanchang, 330099, China
  • 8Division of Ocean Science and Technology, Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, 518055, China
  • 9INRA, Centre INRA Bordeaux Aquitaine, URM1391 ISPA, 33140, Villenave d'Ornon, France

Abstract. Ecohydrological sensitivity is defined as the response intensity of streamflow to per unit vegetation change. Understanding of ecohydrological sensitivity and its influencing factors is important for managing water supply, reducing water-related hazards and ensuring aquatic functions by vegetation management. However, this topic has rarely been examined. In this study, 14 large watersheds across various environmental gradients in China were selected to quantify ecohydrological sensitivities at the seasonal scale and to examine their influencing factors such as climate, vegetation, topography, soil and landscape. Based on the variables identified by correlation analysis and factor analysis, the prediction models of seasonal ecohydrological sensitivity were constructed to test their utilities for the design of watershed management and protection strategies. Our key findings were: (1) ecohydrological sensitivities were more sensitive in dry conditions than in wet conditions, for example, 1 % LAI (leaf area index) change averagely induced 5.05 % and 1.96 % change in dry and wet season streamflows, respectively; (2) seasonal ecohydrological sensitivities were highly variable across the study watersheds with different climate condition, dominant soil type and hydrological regime; and (3) the dry season ecohydrological sensitivity was mostly determined by topography (slope, slope length, valley depth, downslope distance gradient), soil (topsoil organic carbon, topsoil bulk density) and vegetation (LAI), while the wet season ecohydrological sensitivity was mainly controlled by soil (topsoil available water holding capacity), landscape (edge density) and vegetation (leaf area index). Our study provided a useful and practical framework to assess and predict ecohydrological sensitivities at the seasonal scale. We expect that ecohydrological sensitivity prediction models can be applied to ungauged watersheds or watersheds with limited hydrological data to help decision makers and watershed managers to effectively manage hydrological impacts through vegetation restoration programs. We conclude that ecohydrological sensitivities at the seasonal scale were varied by climate, vegetation and watershed property, and their understanding can greatly support management of hydrological risks and protection of aquatic functions.

Yiping Hou et al.

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Short summary
Ecohydrological sensitivity defined as the response intensity of streamflow to per unit vegetation change indicates the hydrological sensitivity to vegetation change. The study revealed seasonal ecohydrological sensitivities were variable with climate condition, dominant soil type and hydrological regime. The dry season ecohydrological sensitivity was determined by topography, soil and vegetation, while the wet season ecohydrological sensitivity was controlled by soil, landscape and vegetation.
Ecohydrological sensitivity defined as the response intensity of streamflow to per unit...
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