10 Nov 2022
 | 10 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Catchment water storage dynamics and its role in modulating streamflow generation in spectral perspective: a case study in the headwater of Baiyang Lake, China

Xinyao Zhou, Zhuping Sheng, Yanmin Yang, Shumin Han, Qingzhou Zhang, Huilong Li, and Yonghui Yang

Abstract. Although it is important in hydrological cycles, catchment water storage dynamics is still not fully understood because it is affected by multiple drivers simultaneously and is difficult to be estimated using field hydrometric observations and hydrological models. Taking the headwater of Baiyang Lake, China as an example, this study employed a spectral approach to illustrate how catchment water storage was influenced by rainfall and vegetation, and how water storage modulated streamflow for the period of 1982–2015. The competence of the spectral approach in characterizing causality was verified and a more holistic understanding of hydrological cycles was gained. Results showed that under different climatic phases (wet/dry), catchment water storage dynamics were controlled by different factors and dominant streamflow generation mechanisms were not invariant. In the wet phase, catchment water storage dynamics was determined by rainfall. And groundwater flow was the most important part of streamflow, followed by subsurface flow and surface flow. Nevertheless, in the dry phase, catchment water storage dynamics was modulated by evapotranspiration. And the surface flow was the most important part of streamflow, followed by subsurface flow and groundwater flow. The land use change induced by human activities could alter the streamflow sensitivity to rainfall, but could not cause fundamental changes to hydrological cycles. We concluded that the spectral approach can be an effective supplement to the experimental methods and their integration can provide systematic insights into hydrological cycles in the study area and other watershed systems.

Xinyao Zhou et al.

Status: open (until 16 Mar 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-357', Anonymous Referee #1, 31 Dec 2022 reply

Xinyao Zhou et al.

Xinyao Zhou et al.


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Short summary
The hydrological processes of a watershed system are affected by both natural conditions, such as rainfall and drought, and human activities, such as deforestation and afforestation. Therefore different hydrological responses to climatic and anthropogenic changes are expected. Using a spectral approach, this study confirmed that the driving factors of water storage and streamflow generation mechanism vary over time. This is important for water resources management under changing world.