Evaluation of impacts of climate change and human activities on streamflow in the Poyang Lake basin, China

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Abstract

Variations in streamflows of five tributaries of the Poyang Lake basin, China, because of the influence of human activities and climate change were evaluated using the Australia Water Balance Model and multivariate regression. Results indicated that multiple regression models were appropriate with precipitation, potential evapotranspiration of the current month, and precipitation of the last month as explanatory variables. The NASH coefficient for the Australia Water Balance Model was larger than 0.842, indicating satisfactory simulation of streamflow of the Poyang Lake basin. Comparison indicated that the sensitivity method could not exclude the benchmark-period human influence, and the human influence on streamflow changes was overestimated. Generally, contributions of human activities and climate change to streamflow changes were 73.2% and 26.8% respectively. However, human-induced and climate-induced influences on streamflow were different in different river basins. Specifically, climate change was found to be the major driving factor for the increase of streamflow within the Rao, Xin, and Gan River basins; however, human activity was the principal driving factor for the increase of streamflow of the Xiu River basin and also for the decrease of streamflow of the Fu River basin. Meanwhile, impacts of human activities and climate change on streamflow variations were distinctly different at different temporal scales. At the annual time scale, the increase of streamflow was largely because of climate change and human activities during the 1970s–1990s and the decrease of streamflow during the 2000s. At the seasonal scale, climate change was the main factor behind the increase of streamflow in the spring and summer season. Human activities increase the streamflow in autumn and winter, but decrease the streamflow in spring. At the monthly scale, different influences of climate change and human activities were detected. Climate change was the main factor behind the decrease of streamflow during May to June and human activities behind the decrease of streamflow during February to May. Results of this study can provide a theoretical basis for basin-scale water resources management under the influence of climate change and human activities. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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