Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2023-172
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2023-172
03 Aug 2023
 | 03 Aug 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Wetting and drying trends in the Land-Atmosphere Reservoir of large basins around the world

Juan F. Salazar, Rubén D. Molina, Jorge I. Zuluaga, and Jesus D. Gomez-Velez

Abstract. Global change is altering hydrologic regimes worldwide, including large basins that play a central role in the sustainability of human societies and ecosystems. The basin water budget is a fundamental framework for understanding these basins' sensitivity and future dynamics under changing forcings. In this budget, studies often treat atmospheric processes as external to the basin and assume that atmosphere-related water storage changes are negligible in the long term. These assumptions are potentially misleading in large basins with strong land-atmosphere feedbacks, including terrestrial moisture recycling, which is critical for global water distribution. Here we introduce the Land-Atmosphere Reservoir (LAR) concept to include atmospheric processes as a critical component of the basin water budget and use it to study long-term changes in the water storage of some of the world's largest basins. Our results show significant LAR water storage trends over the last four decades, with a marked latitudinal contrast: while tropical basins have been accumulating water, temperate basins have been drying. If continued, these trends will disrupt the discharge regime and compromise the sustainability of these basins with widespread impacts.

Juan F. Salazar, Rubén D. Molina, Jorge I. Zuluaga, and Jesus D. Gomez-Velez

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-2023-172', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2023-172', Anonymous Referee #2, 19 Dec 2023
Juan F. Salazar, Rubén D. Molina, Jorge I. Zuluaga, and Jesus D. Gomez-Velez
Juan F. Salazar, Rubén D. Molina, Jorge I. Zuluaga, and Jesus D. Gomez-Velez

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Short summary
Global change is altering river basins and their discharge worldwide. Here we introduce the Land-Atmosphere Reservoir (LAR) concept to investigate these changes in six of the world's largest basins. We found that tropical basins (Amazon, Parana, and Congo) are getting wetter, whereas temperate basins (Mississippi, Ob, and Yenisei) are drying. If continued, these long-term trends will disrupt the discharge regime and compromise the sustainability of these basins with widespread impacts.