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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-354
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-354
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Jul 2020

24 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Accelerated hydrological cycle over the Sanjiangyuan region induces more streamflow extremes at different global warming levels

Peng Ji1,2, Xing Yuan3, Feng Ma3, and Ming Pan4 Peng Ji et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Regional Climate–Environment for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
  • 2College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 1000493, China
  • 3School of Hydrology and Water Resources, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Abstract. Serving source water for the Yellow, Yangtze and Lancang-Mekong rivers, the Sanjiangyuan region concerns ~ 700 million people over its downstream areas. Recent research suggests that the Sanjiangyuan region will become wetter in a warming future, but future changes in streamflow extremes remain unclear due to the complex hydrological processes over high-land areas and limited knowledge of the influences of land cover change and CO2 physiological forcing. Based on high resolution land surface modeling during 1979~2100 driven by the climate and ecological projections from 11 newly released Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) climate models, we show that different accelerating rates of precipitation and evapotranspiration at 1.5 °C global warming level induce 55 % more dry extremes over Yellow river and 138 % more wet extremes over Yangtze river headwaters compared with the reference period (1985~2014). An additional 0.5 °C warming leads to a further nonlinear and more significant increase for both dry extremes over Yellow river (22 %) and wet extremes over Yangtze river (64 %). The combined role of CO2 physiological forcing and vegetation greening, which used to be neglected in hydrological projections, is found to alleviate dry extremes at 1.5 and 2.0 °C warming levels but to intensify dry extremes at 3.0 °C warming level. Moreover, vegetation greening contributes half of the differences between 1.5 and 3.0 °C warming levels. This study emphasizes the importance of ecological processes in determining future changes in streamflow extremes, and suggests a dry gets drier, wet gets wetter condition over headwaters.

Peng Ji et al.

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Short summary
By performing high resolution land surface modeling driven by the latest CMIP6 climate models, we find both the dry streamflow extreme over the drought-prone Yellow river headwater and the wet streamflow extreme over the flood-prone Yangtze river headwater will increase under 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 degree global warming levels, and emphasizes the importance of considering ecological changes (i.e., vegetation greening and CO2 physiological forcing) in the hydrological projection.
By performing high resolution land surface modeling driven by the latest CMIP6 climate models,...
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