02 May 2022
02 May 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Does non-stationarity induced by multiyear drought invalidate the paired-catchment method?

Yunfan Zhang1,2,3, Lei Cheng1,2,3, Lu Zhang4, Shujing Qin1,2,3, Liu Liu5, Pan Liu1,2,3, and Yanghe Liu1,2,3 Yunfan Zhang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • 2Hubei Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center for Water Resources Security, Wuhan 430072, China
  • 3Hubei Provincial Key Lab of Water System Science for Sponge City Construction, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China
  • 4CSIRO Land and Water, Black Mountain, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
  • 5College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China

Abstract. Multiyear drought has been proved to cause non-stationary rainfall-runoff relationship. But whether this change can occur in catchments that have also experienced vegetation change and whether it invalidates the most widely used methods (the paired-catchment method (PCM), the time-trend method (TTM), and the sensitivity-based method (SBM)) for estimating impacts of vegetation change on runoff is still unknown and rarely discussed. In the Red Hill paired experimental catchments in Australia, which has experienced a 10-year drought (2000–2009) and afforestation, estimated inconsistent afforestation impacts were 32.8 %, 93.5 %, and 76.1 % of total runoff changes by the PCM, TTM and SBM, respectively. In addition to afforestation, multiyear drought has also led to the non-stationary rainfall-runoff relationship of the paired catchments. For the TTM and SBM, traditional application did not further differentiate different drivers of non-stationary rainfall-runoff relationship, which led to significant overestimation of afforestation effects. A new framework was proposed to separate the effects of three factors on runoff changes including vegetation change, climate variability and multiyear drought caused non-stationarity. Based on the new framework, impacts of afforestation on runoff were 38.8 % by the TTM and 21.4 % by the SBM, agreeing well with that by the PCM (32.8 %). Using paired-catchment observations, this study proved multiyear drought can induce non-stationary rainfall-runoff relationship and proposed a new framework to better separate the impact of vegetation changes on runoff under climate-induced non-stationary condition. More importantly, paired-catchment method is proven to be still the most reliable method even the control catchment experienced climate-induced shift in rainfall-runoff relationship.

Yunfan Zhang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-166', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Lei Cheng, 15 Jul 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-166', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Lei Cheng, 15 Jul 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2022-166', Anonymous Referee #3, 09 Jun 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Lei Cheng, 15 Jul 2022

Yunfan Zhang et al.

Yunfan Zhang et al.


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Short summary
Multiyear drought has been proved to cause non-stationary rainfall-runoff relationship. But whether this change can invalidate the most fundamental method for separating vegetation change impacts (i.e. paired-catchment method (PCM)) is still unknown. Using paired-catchment data with 10-year drought, PCM is proven to be still reliable even catchments experienced non-stationarity. A new framework is further proposed to separate impacts of two non-stationary drivers using paired-catchment data.