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Potential effects of climate change on rainfall erosivity in the Yellow River basin of China

Zhang, G.H., Nearing, M.A., Liu, B.Y.
Transactions of the ASAE 2005 v.48 no.2 pp. 511
rain, water erosion, precipitation, climate change, sediment yield, losses from soil, General Circulation Models, China
Severe soil erosion in the Yellow River basin is a significant obstruction to the sustainable management of soil and water resources. Any changes in soil erosion will have great effects on long-term planning of soil and water conservation in such a severely eroded basin. Rainfall erosivity describes the soil loss potential caused by rain, which can be expected to change in correspondence to changes in climate. This study was conducted to assess the potential effects of climate change on rainfall erosivity in the Yellow River basin. Two different rainfall scenarios were generated with the HadCM3 general circulation model for the years 2006 to 2035, 2036 to 2065, and 2066 to 2095. The statistics test showed that rainfall erosivity increased significantly in the Yellow River basin under both scenarios for all periods in the coming decades. The erosivity increase varied from scenario to scenario, and from period to period. Generally, increases in erosivity were less from southeast to northwest. The calculated precipitation elasticity of rainfall erosivity indicated that percent changes in rainfall erosivity were greater than percent changes in total precipitation by a factor of 1.2 to 1.4. The expected increases in precipitation require that more attention will be given to soil and water conservation practices such as vegetation rehabilitation and check-dam construction.