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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Oct 2018

Research article | 15 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Multimodel assessments of human and climate impacts on mean annual streamflow in China

Xingcai Liu1,2, Wenfeng Liu2,3, Hong Yang2,4, Qiuhong Tang1,5, Martina Flörke6, Yoshimitsu Masaki7, Hannes Müller Schmied8,9, Sebastian Ostberg10, Yadu Pokhrel11, Yusuke Satoh12,13, and Yoshihide Wada12 Xingcai Liu et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, A11, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
  • 2Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Ueberlandstrasse 133, CH-8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 4Department of Environmental Sciences, MGU, University of Basel, Petersplatz 1, CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland
  • 5College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 6Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
  • 7Graduate School of Science and Technology, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Japan
  • 8Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany
  • 9Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt, Germany
  • 10Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, Germany
  • 11Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 United States of America
  • 12International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 13National Institute for Environmental Study, Tsukuba, Japan

Abstract. Human activities, as well as climate change, have had increasing impacts on natural hydrological systems, particularly streamflow. However, quantitative assessments of these impacts are lacking on large scales. In this study, we use the simulations from six global hydrological models driven by three meteorological forcings to investigate direct human impact (DHI) and climate change impact on streamflow in China. Results show that, in the sub-periods of 1971–1990 and 1991–2010, one-fifth to one-third of mean annual streamflow (MAF) reduced due to DHI in northern basins and much smaller (<4%) MAF reduced in southern basins. From 1971–1990 to 1991–2010, total MAF changes range from −13% to 10% across basins, wherein the relative contributions of DHI change and climate change show distinct spatial patterns. DHI change caused decreases in MAF in 70% of river segments, but climate change dominated the total MAF changes in 88% of river segments of China. In most northern basins, climate change results in changes of −9% to 18% of MAF, while DHI change results in decreases of 2% to 8% in MAF. In contrast with the impacts of climate change that may increase or decrease streamflow, DHI change almost always contributes to decreases in MAF over time, wherein water withdrawals are supposed to be the major impact on streamflow. This quantitative assessment can be a reference for attribution of streamflow changes at large scales despite uncertainty remains. We highlight the significant DHI in northern basins and the necessity to modulate DHI through improved water management towards a better adaptation to future climate change.

Xingcai Liu et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Xingcai Liu et al.
Data sets

ISIMIP2a Simulation Data from Water (global) Sector S. Gosling, H. Müller Schmied, R. Betts, J. Chang, P. Ciais, R. Dankers, P. Döll, S. Eisner, M. Flörke, D. Gerten, M. Grillakis, N. Hanasaki, S. Hagemann, M. Huang, Z. Huang, S. Jerez, H. Kim, A. Koutroulis, G. Leng, X. Liu, Y. Masaki, P. Montavez, C. Morfopoulos, T. Oki, L. Papadimitriou, Y. Pokhrel, F. T. Portmann, R. Orth, S. Ostberg, Y. Satoh, S. Seneviratne, P. Sommer, T. Stacke, Q. Tang, I. Tsanis, Y. Wada, T. Zhou, M. Büchner, J. Schewe, and F. Zhao

Xingcai Liu et al.
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Short summary
Due to the population growth and economic development, human activities associated with water resources management have significantly increased in China during the past decades. This assessment helps us understand how streamflow has been affected by climate and human in China. Our analyses indicate that climate change dominated streamflow changes in most areas and human activities have increasingly decreased streamflow in northern basins of China which are vulnerable to future climate change.
Due to the population growth and economic development, human activities associated with water...