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Simulating the Impact of Climate Change on Runoff in a Typical River Catchment of the Loess Plateau, China

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  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, and Research Center for Climate Change, Ministry of Water Resources, Nanjing, China
  • | 2 College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom
  • | 3 State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, and Research Center for Climate Change, Ministry of Water Resources, Nanjing, China
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Abstract

Global warming will have direct impacts on regional water resources by accelerating the hydrological cycle. Hydrological simulation is an important approach to studying climate change impacts. In this paper, a snowmelt-based water balance model (SWBM) was used to simulate the effect of climate change on runoff in the Kuye River catchment of the Loess Plateau, China. Results indicated that the SWBM is suitable for simulating monthly discharge into arid catchments. The response of runoff in the Kuye River catchment to climate change is nonlinear, and runoff is more sensitive to changes in precipitation than to changes in temperature. The projections indicated that the Kuye River catchment would undergo more flooding in the 2020s, and global warming would probably shorten the main flood season in the catchment, with greater discharge occurring in August. Although projected changes in annual runoff are uncertain, the possibilities of regional water shortages and regional flooding are essential issues that need to be fully considered.

Corresponding author address: G. Q. Wang, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, 225 Guangzhou Road, Nanjing 210029, China. E-mail: gqwang@nhri.cn

Abstract

Global warming will have direct impacts on regional water resources by accelerating the hydrological cycle. Hydrological simulation is an important approach to studying climate change impacts. In this paper, a snowmelt-based water balance model (SWBM) was used to simulate the effect of climate change on runoff in the Kuye River catchment of the Loess Plateau, China. Results indicated that the SWBM is suitable for simulating monthly discharge into arid catchments. The response of runoff in the Kuye River catchment to climate change is nonlinear, and runoff is more sensitive to changes in precipitation than to changes in temperature. The projections indicated that the Kuye River catchment would undergo more flooding in the 2020s, and global warming would probably shorten the main flood season in the catchment, with greater discharge occurring in August. Although projected changes in annual runoff are uncertain, the possibilities of regional water shortages and regional flooding are essential issues that need to be fully considered.

Corresponding author address: G. Q. Wang, Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, 225 Guangzhou Road, Nanjing 210029, China. E-mail: gqwang@nhri.cn
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