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Investigation of the relationship between runoff and atmospheric oscillations, sea surface temperature, and local‐scale climate variables in the Yellow River headwaters region

Chu, Haibo, Wei, Jiahua, Li, Jiaye, Li, Tiejian
Hydrological processes 2018 v.32 no.10 pp. 1434-1448
climate change, climatic factors, correlation, evaporation, periodicity, runoff, surface water temperature, water management, water shortages, watersheds, wavelet, China, Yellow River
The Yellow River headwaters region (YRHR) contributes nearly 40% of total flow in the Yellow River basin, which is suffering from a serious water shortage problem. Investigation of the relationship between runoff and climate variables is important for understanding the variation trend of runoff in the YRHR under global climate change. Global and local climate variables, including the West Pacific subtropical high; northern hemisphere polar vortex (NH); Tibetan Plateau Index B (TPI‐B); southern oscillation index; sea surface temperature; and precipitation, evaporation, and temperature, were fully considered to explore the relationship with runoff at Jimai, Maqu, and Tangnaihai stations from 1956 to 2014. The results reveal that runoff had a decreasing trend, which will likely be maintained in the future, and there was a significant change in runoff around 1995 at all stations. Correlation analysis indicated that runoff was dominated by precipitation, NH, temperature, and TPI‐B, and a substantial correlation was observed with sea surface temperature and evaporation, but there was little correlation with West Pacific subtropical high and southern oscillation index. Furthermore, impacts of climate change on runoff variations were distinctly different at different temporal scales. Three dominant runoff periodicities were identified by a singular spectrum analysis‐multitaper method and continuous wavelet transform, that is, 1.0‐, 6.9‐, and 24.8‐year runoff periodicities. In addition, runoff was positively correlated with temperature at a 1‐year periodicity, negatively correlated with TPI‐B at a 6.9‐year periodicity, and positively correlated with NH at a 24.8‐year periodicity, that is, temperature, TPI‐B, and NH‐controlled runoff at annual, interannual, and interdecadal scales. Further, all analyses of the stations in the YRHR showed excellent consistency. The results will provide valuable information for water resource management in the YRHR.