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Impacts on watershed-scale runoff and sediment yield resulting from synergetic changes in climate and vegetation
- Zhang, Shanghong, Li, Zehao, Hou, Xiaoning, Yi, Yujun
- Catena 2019 v.179 pp. 129-138
- Soil and Water Assessment Tool model, atmospheric precipitation, climate change, climatic factors, normalized difference vegetation index, planning, regression analysis, runoff, sediment yield, soil, synergism, temperature, vegetation cover, water conservation, water resources, watersheds, China
- This study investigates the relations between climate change and both runoff and sediment yield in watersheds and provides a scientific basis for water resources planning and design as well as watershed-scale soil and water conservation. The impact of climate change on runoff and sediment yield in a watershed does not occur in isolation, but is a synergistic process in which climate and vegetation jointly influence runoff and sediment yield. Previous studies have seldom addressed this synergistic effect. For this study, a regression model between climate factors (temperature and precipitation) and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was established using data from the Zhenjiangguan Watershed in China. By combining data on climate-driven changes in vegetation cover, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was built to simulate runoff and sediment yield in the watershed under two scenarios: changes in climate, and synergistic changes in climate and vegetation cover. The simulation results show that precipitation is the most sensitive factor affecting runoff and sediment yield; 10% change in annual precipitation can cause 10%–14% change in annual runoff and 17%–24% change in annual sediment yield. Temperature is also an important factor affecting runoff and sediment yield in the watershed. Each temperature increase of 0.7 °C can result in a decrease of 1.4%–2% in annual runoff and 2%–3.7% in annual sediment yield. This research reveals that accounting for synergetic change in vegetation has an impact on runoff and sediment yield results, and that the magnitude and nature of this influence vary among different combinations of temperature and precipitation changes. When temperature was kept constant, the effect of vegetation cover change caused by precipitation change on runoff and sediment yield was relatively small (only 0.9%–1.5% of the total change), and vegetation cover change inhibited the effects of precipitation change on runoff and sediment yield. When precipitation was kept constant, the effects of vegetation cover change caused by temperature change on runoff and sediment yield were relatively large (20%–30% of the total change), and vegetation cover change enhanced the effects of temperature change on runoff and sediment yield. This investigation considers the synergistic effects of climate and vegetation cover change, and thus further clarifies the extent to which climate change impacts water and ecological resources.