Effective evaluations of the future urban expansion impacts (UEI) on surface runoff in alpine basins are full of challenges due to the lack of reliable methods. Our objective was to provide a new approach by coupling the Land Use Scenario Dynamics-urban (LUSD-urban) and Soil Conservation Service-Curve Number (SCS-CN) models to estimate the future UEI on surface runoff. Taking the Qinghaihu-Huangshui basin (QHB) in the Tibetan Plateau, China, as an example, we first applied the SCS-CN model to quantify the surface runoff in 2000 and 2018 and analyzed the changes in surface runoff. Next, we applied the LUSD-urban model to simulate urban expansion under five localized shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) from 2018 to 2050. Finally, we assessed the UEI on surface runoff in the QHB from 2018 to 2050. We found that coupling the LUSD-urban and SCS-CN models could effectually evaluate the future UEI on surface runoff. Compared with the combination of the Future Land Use Simulation (FLUS) and SCS-CN models, our method reduced the absolute evaluation errors from 3.40% and 11.78% to 0.18% and 4.23%, respectively. In addition, the results showed that future urban expansion will have severe impacts on surface runoff in the valley region. For example, as a result of urban expansion, the surface runoff in the Huangzhong, Xining, and Datong catchments will increase by 4.90–9.01%, 4.25–7.36%, and 2.33–3.95%, respectively. Therefore, we believe that the coupled model can be utilized to evaluate the future UEI on surface runoff in alpine basins. In addition, the local government should pay attention to flood risk prevention, especially in the valley region, and adopt reasonable urban planning with soft and hard adaptation measures to promote the sustainable development of alpine basins under rapid urban expansion.
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