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Open AccessArticle

Impact of Deforestation on Streamflow in the Amur River Basin

1
Mining Institute, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Khabarovsk 680000, Russia
2
Institute of the Water and Ecology Problems, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Khabarovsk 680000, Russia
3
Computing Center, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Khabarovsk 680000, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(6), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9060262
Received: 30 April 2019 / Revised: 8 June 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing used in Environmental Hydrology)
In the basin of the Amur River in the Russian Far East, the influence of watershed areas covered by forests on the river basin has a complex nature, and no strict functional dependency has been established yet between these two factors. A study of the Amur River watershed in the current conditions, between 2000 and 2016 (climate, forest coverage, fires, and felling), has been conducted using the ground and satellite observations. The purpose of the study was to identify their influence on the river behaviour (flow, flooding, and levels of water). The study of hydrological regime of rivers was conducted in conjunction with the analysis of the dynamics of forest and burns areas over the synchronised periods of time. A special attention was given to the changing nature of the species composition of the forests (coniferous and deciduous forests separately) from 2000 to 2016, and climatic parameters over thirty years (atmospheric temperature, dew point, precipitation). New facts have been obtained, which provide an explanation of the reasons for predominant prolonged trends in the dynamics of the summer streamflow. In the view of the general tendency toward increased forest coverage combining all species of forest stand, the trend in the dynamics of the coniferous species areas is negative. Therefore, a conclusion can be made, that one of the major factors in the increase of the river flood flow (alongside the atmospheric precipitation), is deforestation of primary coniferous forests on the watershed areas, in contrast with the deciduous forests, where the trend is positive. Practicability of such conclusions can be justified, as different types of forests have different root systems, which mellow the ground and facilitate partial loss of the atmospheric precipitation and its transformation into the groundwater flow. Besides, coniferous forests attract more frequent and intensive fires, more subjected to felling, have longer regeneration period, and also, use larger volumes of ground waters for growing and functioning. Consequently, with their disappearance, an increase in streamflow should be expected. No changes in surface temperature and humidity of the forest cover in the watersheds during 1980-2016 despite global warming. Therefore, annual variability of forested areas of watersheds is greatly influenced by fires and felling. There are reasons to assume, that because of the tendency for decreasing areas of coniferous forests, the conditions contributing to the increases in rivers’ flood flow and flood risks during monsoon and frontal cyclonic rainfalls will remain. View Full-Text
Keywords: Amur River; watershed; streamflow; local climates; percentage of forest; remote sensing Amur River; watershed; streamflow; local climates; percentage of forest; remote sensing
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sokolova, G.V.; Verkhoturov, A.L.; Korolev, S.P. Impact of Deforestation on Streamflow in the Amur River Basin. Geosciences 2019, 9, 262.

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