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Water 2018, 10(9), 1277;

Detecting the Dominant Cause of Streamflow Decline in the Loess Plateau of China Based onthe Latest Budyko Equation

State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of China, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an 710048, China
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 July 2018 / Revised: 10 September 2018 / Accepted: 16 September 2018 / Published: 18 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Quantifying the relative contributions of climate variability and human activity to streamflow change is important for effective water resource use and management. Four sub-catchments of the Wei River Basin (WRB) in the Loess Plateau in China were selected as the study region, where the evolution of parameter α from the latest Budyko equation (Wang-Tang equation) was explored using an 11-year moving window. The elasticity of streamflow was derived from the climatic aridity index, represented by the ratio of annual potential evaporation ( E P ) to annual precipitation ( P ), and catchment characteristics as represented by α . The effects of climate change and human activities on streamflow change during 1971–2010 were quantified with climate elasticity and decomposition methods. The contributions of different types of human activities to streamflow were further empirically determined using the water and soil conservation method. Results indicate that (1) under the same climate condition ( P and E P ), a higher value of α caused an increase in evaporation rate ( E / P ) and a decrease in runoff. Changes in these hydrological variables led to a subsequent reduction in streamflow in the WRB; (2) The absolute value of the precipitation elasticity was larger than the potential evaporation elasticity, indicating that streamflow change was more sensitive to precipitation; (3) The results based on the two methods were consistent. Climate change and human activities contributed to the decrease in streamflow by 29% and 71%, respectively, suggesting that human activities have exerted more profound impacts on streamflow in the study region; (4) Contributions of different water and soil conservation measures to streamflow reduction were calculated and sorted in descending order: Irrigation, industrial and domestic consumption, terrace, afforestation, reservoirs, check-dams, then grass-planting. View Full-Text
Keywords: Loess Plateau; streamflow change; Budyko framework; climate change; human activities Loess Plateau; streamflow change; Budyko framework; climate change; human activities

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Zhao, J.; Huang, S.; Huang, Q.; Wang, H.; Leng, G. Detecting the Dominant Cause of Streamflow Decline in the Loess Plateau of China Based onthe Latest Budyko Equation. Water 2018, 10, 1277.

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