The objectives of this study were to assess land use changes and their hydrological impacts in the Nenjiang River Basin (NRB). The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was employed to evaluate the impacts of land use changes. The Cellular Automata-Markov model was used to predict a land use map in 2038. Streamflow under each land use state was simulated by the SWAT model. The results showed that there was a significant expansion of agriculture area at the expense of large areas of grassland, wetland, and forest during 1975–2000. The land use changes during the period of 1975 to 2000 had decreased the water yield (3.5%), surface runoff (1.7%), and baseflow (19%) while they increased the annual evapotranspiration (2.1%). For impacts of individual land use type, the forest proved to have reduced streamflow in the flood season (10%–28%) and increased surface runoff in the drought season (20%–38%). Conversely, grassland, dry land, and paddy land scenarios resulted in increase of streamflow during summer months by 7%–37% and a decrease of streamflow in the cold seasons by 11.7%–59.7%. When the entire basin was changed to wetland, streamflow reduced over the whole year, with the largest reduction during January to March. The 2038 land use condition is expected to increase the annual water yield, surface runoff and wet season flow, and reduce evapotranspiration and baseflow. These results could help to improve sustainable land use management and water utilization in the NRB.
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