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Water 2017, 9(3), 159; doi:10.3390/w9030159

The Spatial and Temporal Contribution of Glacier Runoff to Watershed Discharge in the Yarkant River Basin, Northwest China

1
Key Laboratory of Ecohydrology of Inland River Basin, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
3
Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China
4
International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (ICACS), Institute of Agriculture and Environment (IAg & E), School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Springfield 4300, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marco Franchini
Received: 8 November 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 17 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
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Abstract

In this paper, a glacial module based on an enhanced temperature-index approach was successfully introduced into the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to simulate the glacier runoff and water balance of a glacierized watershed, the mountainous region of the Yarkant River Basin (YRB) in Karakoram. Calibration and validation of the SWAT model were based on comparisons between the simulated and observed discharge with a monthly temporal resolution from 1961 to 2011 for the Kaqun hydrological station. The results reaffirmed the viability of the approach for simulating glacier runoff, as evidenced by a Nash–Sutcliff Efficiency (NSE) of 0.82–0.86 as well as a percentage bias (PBIAS) of −4.5% to 2.4%, for the calibration and validation periods, respectively. Over the last 50 years, the total discharge and glacier runoff both exhibited increasing trends with 0.031 × 109 m3·a−1 and 0.011 × 109 m3·a−1. The annual glacier runoff contribution to the streamflow was between 42.3% and 64.5%, with an average of 51.6%, although the glaciers accounted for only 12.6% of the watershed drainage area in the mountainous YRB. The monthly contribution of the glacier runoff ranged from 11.0% in April to 62.1% in August, and the glacier runoff from June to September accounted for about 86.3% of the annual glacier runoff. Runoff from the mountainous regions above 5000 m a.s.l. accounted for 70.5% of the total discharge, with glacier runoff contributions being approximately 46.4%. View Full-Text
Keywords: glacier runoff contribution; distributed hydrological modeling; Yarkant River Basin; soil and water assessment tool (SWAT); Karakoram glacier runoff contribution; distributed hydrological modeling; Yarkant River Basin; soil and water assessment tool (SWAT); Karakoram
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Yin, Z.; Feng, Q.; Liu, S.; Zou, S.; Li, J.; Yang, L.; Deo, R.C. The Spatial and Temporal Contribution of Glacier Runoff to Watershed Discharge in the Yarkant River Basin, Northwest China. Water 2017, 9, 159.

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