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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-343
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
23 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Spatiotemporal response of the water cycle to land use conversions in a typical hilly-gully basin on the Loess Plateau, China
Linjing Qiu1, Yiping Wu1, Lijing Wang1, Xiaohui Lei2, Weihong Liao2, Ying Hui3, and Xianyong Meng4 1Department of Earth and Environmental Science, School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710049, China
2State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China
3Meteorological Institute of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an, China
4Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing, 100038, China
Abstract. The hydrological effects of the ‘Grain for Green’ project (GFGP) on the Loess Plateau have been largely debated due to the complexity of the water system and its multiple driving factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the response of the hydrological cycle to the GFGP measures based on a case study of the Yanhe basin, a typical hilly-gully area on the Loess Plateau of China. First, we analyzed the land use and land cover (LULC) changes from 1990 to 2010. Then, we evaluated the effects of LULC changes and sloping land conversion on the main hydrological components in the basin considering the land surface characteristics and climate impacts. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used for this analysis. The results indicated that farmland exhibited a decreasing trend declining from 40.2 % of the basin area in 1990 to 17.6 % in 2010, and the woodland and grassland areas correspondingly increased due to the implementation of the GFGP in the basin. Due to land use changes from 1990 to 2010, surface runoff and the water yield exhibited decreasing trends, whereas evapotranspiration (ET) increased, resulting in a persistent decrease in soil water. Additionally, converting cropland areas with slopes ≥ 15° or > 25° to grassland and woodland had negative effects on surface runoff, the water yield and soil water and a positive effect on ET. The magnitudes of the hydrological effects generated by sloping cropland to woodland conversion were greater than those for sloping cropland to grassland conversion. These results suggest that the expansive revegetation of sloping land could reduce runoff generation, particularly in woodland areas, but these effects could reduce the soil water volume in the region. Overall, this study can be used to improve sustainable land use planning and water resource management on the Loess Plateau in China.

Citation: Qiu, L., Wu, Y., Wang, L., Lei, X., Liao, W., Hui, Y., and Meng, X.: Spatiotemporal response of the water cycle to land use conversions in a typical hilly-gully basin on the Loess Plateau, China, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-343, in review, 2017.
Linjing Qiu et al.
Linjing Qiu et al.
Linjing Qiu et al.

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Short summary
What are the effects of Grain for Green project on the water balance in the Loess Plateau of China? Our modeling study indicated that the surface runoff and water yield exhibited a decreasing trend as the expansion of woodland on the sloping land because of overland flow retention and intensification of ET, while these effects were at the expense of soil water reduction in the region. Thus, land use planning should consider all water balance components to promote the watershed sustainability.
What are the effects of Grain for Green project on the water balance in the Loess Plateau of...
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