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Environmental Flow Assessment Considering Inter- and Intra-Annual Streamflow Variability under the Context of Non-Stationarity

1
State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of China, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an 710048, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
3
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(12), 1737; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10121737
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 23 November 2018 / Published: 26 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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PDF [3441 KB, uploaded 26 November 2018]
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Abstract

A key challenge to environmental flow assessment in many rivers is to evaluate how much of the discharge flow should be retained in the river in order to maintain the integrity and valued features of riverine ecosystems. With the increasing impact of climate change and human activities on riverine ecosystems, the natural flow regime paradigm in many rivers has become non-stationary conditions, which is a new challenge to the assessment of environmental flow. This study presents a useful framework to (1) detect change points in runoff time series using two statistical methods (Mann-Kendall test method and heuristic segmentation method), (2) adjust data of the changed period against the original flow series into a stationary condition using a procedure of reconstruction; and (3) incorporate inter- and intra-annual streamflow variability with adjusted streamflow to evaluate environmental flow. The Jialing to Han inter-basin water transfer project was selected as the case study. Results indicate that a change point of 1994 was identified, revealing that the stationarity of annual streamflow series is invalid. The variations of reconstructed streamflow series are roughly consistent with original streamflow series, especially in the maximum/minimum values and rise/fall rates, but the mean value of reconstructed streamflow series is increased. The reconstructed streamflow series would further serve to eliminate the non-stationary of original streamflow, and incorporating the inter- and intra-annual variability would upgrade the ecosystem fitness. Selecting different criteria for the conservation of riverine ecosystems can have significantly different consequences, and we should not focus on the protection of specific objectives that will inevitably affect other aspects. This study provides a useful framework for environmental flow assessment and can be applied to a wide range of instream flow management approaches to protect the riverine ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: water diversion; streamflow change; indicators of hydrologic alteration; climate change; reconstruction water diversion; streamflow change; indicators of hydrologic alteration; climate change; reconstruction
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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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Ren, K.; Huang, S.; Huang, Q.; Wang, H.; Leng, G. Environmental Flow Assessment Considering Inter- and Intra-Annual Streamflow Variability under the Context of Non-Stationarity. Water 2018, 10, 1737.

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