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Hydrological responses to climatic changes in the Yellow River basin, China: Climatic elasticity and streamflow prediction

Zhang, Qiang, Liu, Jianyu, Singh, Vijay P., Shi, Peijun, Sun, Peng
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.554 pp. 635-645
climate change, irrigated farming, prediction, stream flow, temperature, water, water management, water resources, watersheds, China, Yellow River
Prediction of streamflow of the Yellow River basin was done using downscaled precipitation and temperature based on outputs of 12 GCMs under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Streamflow changes of 37 tributaries of the Yellow River basin during 2070–2099 were predicted related to different GCMs and climatic scenarios using Budyko framework. The results indicated that: (1) When compared to precipitation and temperature during 1960–1979, increasing precipitation and temperature are dominant during 2070–2099. Particularly, under RCP8.5, increase of 10% and 30% can be detected for precipitation and temperature respectively; (2) Precipitation changes have larger fractional contribution to streamflow changes than temperature changes, being the major driver for spatial and temporal patterns of water resources across the Yellow River basin; (3) 2070–2099 period will witness increased streamflow depth and decreased streamflow can be found mainly in the semi-humid regions and headwater regions of the Yellow River basin, which can be attributed to more significant increase of temperature than precipitation in these regions; (4) Distinctly different picture of streamflow changes can be observed with consideration of different outputs of GCMs which can be attributed to different outputs of GCMs under different scenarios. Even so, under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 scenarios, 36.8% and 71.1% of the tributaries of the Yellow River basin are dominated by increasing streamflow. The results of this study are of theoretical and practical merits in terms of management of water resources and also irrigated agriculture under influences of changing climate.