27 Jun 2022
27 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Attributing trend in naturalized streamflow to temporally explicit vegetation change and climate variation in the Yellow River Basin of China

Zhihui Wang1,3, Qiuhong Tang2, Daoxi Wang1,3, Peiqing Xiao1, Runliang Xia4, Pengcheng Sun1, and Feng Feng5 Zhihui Wang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation on the Loess Plateau of Ministry of Water Resources, Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research, Yellow River Conservancy Commission, Zhengzhou, 450003, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
  • 3Henan Key Laboratory of Ecological Environment Protection and Restoration of the Yellow River Basin, Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research, Zhengzhou, 45003, China
  • 4Henan Engineering Research Center of Smart Water Conservancy, Yellow River Institute of Hydraulic Research, Zhengzhou, 45003, China
  • 5Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute, Kaifeng, 475004, China

Abstract. The naturalized streamflow, i.e., streamflow without water management effects, in the Yellow River Basin (YRB) has been significantly decreased at a rate of -3.71×108 m3 yr-1 during 1982–2018 although annual precipitation experienced insignificantly positive trend. Explicit detection and attribution of naturalized streamflow is critical to manage limited water resources for sustainable development of ecosystem and socio-economical system. The effects from temporally explicit changes of climate variables and underlying surfaces on the streamflow trend were assessed using Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model prescribed with continuously dynamic leaf area index (LAI) and land cover. The results show a sharp increase of LAI trend and land use change as a conversion of cropland into forest-grass in the basin. The decrease in naturalized streamflow can be primarily attributed to the vegetation changes including interannual LAI increase and intra-annual LAI temporal pattern change, which accounts for the streamflow reduction of 1.99×108 m3 yr-1 and 0.45×108 m3 yr-1, respectively. The impacts of LAI change are largest at the sub-region of Longmen-Huayuankou where LAI increasing trend is high and land use change is substantial. Attribution based on simulations with multi-year average LAI changes obviously underestimates the impacts of interannual LAI change and intra-annual LAI temporal change on the natural streamflow trend. Overall, the effect climate variation on streamflow is slight because positive effect from precipitation and wind speed changes was offset by the negative effect from increasing temperature. Although climate variation is decisive for streamflow change, this study suggests that change in underlying surface has imposed a substantial trend on naturalized streamflow. This study improves the understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns and the underlying mechanisms of natural streamflow reduction across YRB between 1982 and 2018.

Zhihui Wang et al.

Status: open (until 22 Aug 2022)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-196', Dengfeng Liu, 25 Jul 2022 reply

Zhihui Wang et al.

Zhihui Wang et al.


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Short summary
Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model simulation considering dynamic vegetation parameters can better capture the effect of temporally explicit vegetation change on hydrological regimes. Total effects from vegetation greening composed of interannual LAI increase and intra-annual LAI temporal pattern change, primarily induced by large-scale ecological restoration, play a dominant role in the natural streamflow reduction of Yellow River over last decades.