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Response of Hydrological Processes to Input Data in High Alpine Catchment: An Assessment of the Yarkant River basin in China
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Water 2016, 8(5), 186;

Rationalization of Altitudinal Precipitation Profiles in a Data-Scarce Glacierized Watershed Simulation in the Karakoram

Key Lab of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19A, Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Received: 25 February 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 29 April 2016 / Published: 5 May 2016
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Due to the scarcity of field observations and geodetic measurements in catchments in the Karakoram Mountains in Western China, obtaining precipitation data for the high mountains involves large uncertainties and difficulties. In this study, we used a functional relationship between the annual glacier accumulation and summer temperature at the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) to derive precipitation lapse rates (PLAPSs) in a data-scarce watershed. These data were used in a modified Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model with a glacier module to simulate glacio-hydrological processes in the Yarkant River basin in the Karakoram. The PLAPS based on the widely-used grid datasets considerably underestimated precipitation, yielding an unreasonable watershed water balance and inaccurate glacier changes. However, the ELA-based PLAPS improved the simulation significantly. In the Yarkant River basin, the annual precipitation reached a peak of 800–1000 mm at approximately 5300 m a.s.l. The model simulations indicated that the contributions of glacier melt and ice melt to total runoff were 52% and 31%, respectively. Moreover, a significant precipitation increase and a non-significant temperature increase during the melt season may be the major reasons for the decreased ice melt and slower glacier shrinkage on the northern slope of the Karakoram during the period of 1968–2007. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation lapse rates; high-elevation precipitation; ELA; SWAT; Karakoram precipitation lapse rates; high-elevation precipitation; ELA; SWAT; Karakoram

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Wang, X.; Sun, L.; Zhang, Y.; Luo, Y. Rationalization of Altitudinal Precipitation Profiles in a Data-Scarce Glacierized Watershed Simulation in the Karakoram. Water 2016, 8, 186.

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