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

  08 Sep 2020

08 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Rainfall-runoff processes in the Loess Plateau, China: Temporal dynamics of event rainfall-runoff characteristics and diagnostic analysis of runoff generation patterns

Qiang Wu1,2, Zhaoxi Zhang3, Guodong Zhang3, Shengqi Jian1,2, Li Zhang1,2, Guang Ran1,2, Dong Zhao1,2, Xizhi Lv4, and Caihong Hu1,2 Qiang Wu et al.
  • 1School of Water Conservancy & Engineering, Zhengzhou University, University, Zhengzhou, 450001, China
  • 2Yellow River Institute for Ecological Protection & Regional Coordinated Development, Zhengzhou, 450001, China
  • 3Henan Yellow River Hydrological Survey and Design Institute, Zhengzhou, 450001, China
  • 4Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Loss Process and Control on the Loess Plateau of Ministry of Water Resources, Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research, Zhengzhou, 450001, China

Abstract. The Loess Plateau is the most erosion-prone area in China, while under large-scale ecological restoration runoff and sediments continue to decrease. This study examined the runoff generation mechanism at the catchment scale to understand the change in runoff generation. Six baseflow used to separation method were tested and the nonparametric simple smoothing method was seperating base flow. With the event runoff separation procedure, 340 rainfall–runoff events are selected in five typical catchments affected by significant human intervention in the Loess Plateau. Runoff characteristics, such as the event runoff coefficient, time scale, rise time, and peak discharge are studied on monthly and long-term scales. In catchments of Jialuhe, Chabagou and Gushanchuan with poor vegetation runoff response is strongly decided by rainfall intensity and is produced by Horton overland flow (HOF). While the mountainous catchments of Jingle and Zulihe runoff response is controlled by rainfall volume. The relation between runoff event characteristics and rainfall is complicated in Loess Plateau, where rainfall and underlying surface is significantly changing. The monthly of event characteristics is mostly controlled by rainfall characteristics. Long-term runoff coefficient experiences decreasing trend, while time scale trend is increasing. Land use changes lead to increasing catchment wetness display mostly strong reason in event characteristic response. According to our proposed framework for classifying dominant runoff generation patterns considering of hydrograph response time, discharge source, and flow paths, HOF runoff is still the dominant mechanism, but gradually shifts to Dunne overland flow (DOF) and combination runoff. We speculate that the reduction in runoff in the Yellow River is likely to be the dominant runoff mechanism changing.

Qiang Wu et al.

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Qiang Wu et al.

Qiang Wu et al.


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Latest update: 28 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The significance of this work lies in linking large-scale waterflow and sediment changes to catchment rainfall-runoff process patterns that have become an important issue for development and protection in Loess Plateau. Findings in this study shed new insights into the runoff generation patterns under the large-scale soil and water conservation practices in the last six decades. We identified 340 runoff events and show that the trend of conversion of runoff generation patterns.
The significance of this work lies in linking large-scale waterflow and sediment changes to...