Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Hydrological response to land use and land cover changes in a sub-watershed of West Liaohe River Basin, China


In recent years, the streamflow of the Laohahe Basin in China showed a dramatic decrease during the rainy season as a result of climate change and/or human activities. The objective of this work was to document significant streamflow changes caused by land use and land cover (LULC) changes and to quantify the impacts of the observed changes in Laohahe Basin. In the study area, the observed streamflow has been influenced by LULC changes, dams, and irrigation from rivers, industry, livestock and human consumption. Most importantly, the growth of population and gross domestic product (GDP) accompanied by the growth in industrial and agricultural activities, which led to LULC changes with increased residential land and cropland and decreased grassland since 2000s. Statistical methods and Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrological model were used to estimate the effects of climate change and LULC changes on streamflow and evaportranspiration (ET). First, the streamflow data of the study area were divided into three sub-periods according to the Pettitt test. The hydrological process was then simulated by VIC model from 1964 to 2009. Furthermore, we compared the simulated results based on land use scenarios in 1989, 1999 and 2007, respectively for exploring the effect of LULC changes on the spatio-temporal distribution of streamflow and ET in the Laohahe Basin. The results suggest that, accompanied with climate change, the LULC changes and human water consumption appeared to be the most likely factors contributing to the significant reduction in streamflow in the Laohahe Basin by 64% from1999 to 2009.


hydrological response; land use and land cover changes; streamflow; evapotranspiration; semi-arid region

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