The cumulative effects of forest disturbance and climate variability on baseflow in a large watershed in British Columbia, Canada
Qiang Li1, Xiaohua Wei1, Mingfang Zhang2, Wenfei Liu3, Krysta Giles-Hansen1, Yi Wang1, and Liangliang Duan41Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of British Columbia Okanagan, 1177 Research Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, V1V 1V7 2School of Resources and Environment, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, 2006 Xiyuan Ave. Chengdu, China, 611731 3Institute of Ecology and Environmental Science, Nanchang Institute of Technology, Nanchang, China 4School of Forestry, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China
Received: 09 Jun 2016 – Accepted for review: 16 Jun 2016 – Discussion started: 20 Jun 2016
Abstract. Assessing how forest disturbance and climate change affect baseflow or groundwater discharge is critical for understanding water resource supply and protecting aquatic functions. Previous studies have mainly evaluated the effects of forest disturbance on streamflow, with rare attention on baseflow, particularly in large watersheds. However, studying this topic is challenging as it requires explicit inclusion of climate into assessment due to their interactions at any large watersheds. In this study, we used Upper Similkameen River watershed (USR) (1810 km2), located in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada to examine how forest disturbance and climate variability affect baseflow. The conductivity mass balance method was first used for baseflow separation, and the modified double mass curves were then employed to quantitatively separate the relative contributions of forest disturbance and climate variability to annual baseflow. Our results showed that average annual baseflow and baseflow index (baseflow/streamflow) were about 85.2 ± 21.5 mm year-1 and 0.22 ± 0.05 for the study period of 1954–2013, respectively. The forest disturbance increased the annual baseflow of 18.4 mm, while climate variability decreased 19.4 mm. In addition, forest disturbance also shifted the baseflow regime with increasing of the spring baseflow and decreasing of the summer baseflow. We conclude that forest disturbance significantly altered the baseflow magnitudes and patterns, and its role in annual baseflow was equal to that caused by climate variability in the study watershed despite their opposite changing directions. The implications of our results are discussed in the context of future forest disturbance (or land cover changes) and climate changes.
Li, Q., Wei, X., Zhang, M., Liu, W., Giles-Hansen, K., Wang, Y., and Duan, L.: The cumulative effects of forest disturbance and climate variability on baseflow in a large watershed in British Columbia, Canada, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-291, 2016.