Forest effects on runoff under climate change in the Upper Dongjiang River Basin: insights from annual to intra-annual scales

Li, Z., Zhou, P., Shi, X. and Li, Y. (2021) Forest effects on runoff under climate change in the Upper Dongjiang River Basin: insights from annual to intra-annual scales. Environmental Research Letters, 16(1), 014032. (doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/abd066)

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Climate change and large-scale afforestation characterize the conditions in the Upper Dongjiang River Basin (UDRB), which is one of the most important headwater basins in southern China. It is important to understand whether, and to what extent, the observed runoff change can be attributed to forest and/or climate change. Using process- and relation-based methods, we found precipitation in spring (March–May) decreased notably, while precipitation in summer (June–August) showed an increase from the reference period (1961–1990) to the afforestation period (1991–2010). In comparison, annual averaged potential evapotranspiration did not change much. Both of the methods indicated forest had a positive effect while climate change exerted a negative impact on annual averaged runoff in the UDRB. As a result, the observed annual averaged runoff only showed a little decrease from the reference period to the afforestation period. The climate change impact on monthly averaged runoff basically followed the pattern of precipitation change. Except in July and August, climate change exerted negative or little impact on runoff in most of other months. In comparison, the forest effects on monthly averaged runoff change showed a totally different pattern. Except in May and June, forest exerted positive impact on runoff in other months. As a result, the observed monthly averaged runoff in May and June experienced notable reduction, while those in other months experienced increase or no change. The UDRB provides evidence that additional forest cover would not injure but even increase runoff, especially dry season runoff. The study has important implications for sustainable water management and afforestation in this subtropical region and for similar river basins.

Item Type:Articles (Letter)
Additional Information:The work was financially supported by the GDAS’ Special Project of Science and Development (Grant Nos. 2020GDASYL-20200103002, 2019GDASYL0104001, 2019GDASYL-0401001), Guangdong Provincial Science and Technology Program (Grant Nos. 2018B030324001, 2019B121202006), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31770493).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Shi, Dr John Xiaogang
Authors: Li, Z., Zhou, P., Shi, X., and Li, Y.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:Environmental Research Letters
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN (Online):1748-9326
Published Online:29 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in Environmental Research Letters 16(1):014032
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license
Data DOI:10.7910/DVN/6JQ5Y3

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