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Forests 2016, 7(1), 10; doi:10.3390/f7010010

Modeling Ecohydrological Processes and Spatial Patterns in the Upper Heihe Basin in China

School of Water Resources and Environment, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ge Sun and James M. Vose
Received: 29 September 2015 / Revised: 18 December 2015 / Accepted: 21 December 2015 / Published: 25 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [4971 KB, uploaded 25 December 2015]   |  


The Heihe River is the second largest inland basin in China; runoff in the upper reach greatly affects the socio-economic development in the downstream area. The relationship between spatial vegetation patterns and catchment hydrological processes in the upper Heihe basin has remained unclear to date. In this study, a distributed ecohydrological model is developed to simulate the hydrological processes with vegetation dynamics in the upper Heihe basin. The model is validated by hydrological observations at three locations and soil moisture observations at a watershed scale. Based on the simulated results, the basin water balance characteristics and their relationship with the vegetation patterns are analyzed. The mean annual precipitation and runoff increase with the elevation in a similar pattern. Spatial patterns of the actual evapotranspiration is mainly controlled by the precipitation and air temperature. At the same time, vegetation distribution enhances the spatial variability of the actual evapotranspiration. The highest actual evapotranspiration is around elevations of 3000–3600 m, where shrub and alpine meadow are the two dominant vegetation types. The results show the mutual interaction between vegetation dynamics and hydrological processes. Alpine sparse vegetation and alpine meadow dominate the high-altitude regions, which contribute most to the river runoff, and forests and shrub contribute relatively small amounts of water yield. View Full-Text
Keywords: distributed ecohydrological model; vegetation dynamics; hydrological processes; water balance characteristics distributed ecohydrological model; vegetation dynamics; hydrological processes; water balance characteristics

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gao, B.; Qin, Y.; Wang, Y.; Yang, D.; Zheng, Y. Modeling Ecohydrological Processes and Spatial Patterns in the Upper Heihe Basin in China. Forests 2016, 7, 10.

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