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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-452
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-452
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 02 Oct 2019

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

A line integral-based method to partition climate and catchment effects on runoff

Mingguo Zheng1,2 Mingguo Zheng
  • 1Guangdong Key Laboratory of Agricultural Environment Pollution Integrated Control, Guangdong Institute of Eco-environment Science & Technology, Guangzhou 510650, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences & Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academic of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

Abstract. It is a common task to partition synergistic impacts of a number of drivers in the environmental sciences. However, there is no mathematically precise solution to the partition. Here I presented a line integral-based method, which concerns about the sensitivity to the drivers throughout their evolutionary path so as to ensure a precise partition. The method reveals that the partition depends on both the change magnitude and pathway (timing of change), and not on the magnitude alone unless for a linear system. To illustrate the method, I used the Budyko framework to partition the effects on the temporal change in runoff of climatic and catchment conditions for 21 catchments from Australia and China. The method reduced to the decomposition method when assumed a path along which climate change occurs first followed by an abrupt change in catchment properties. The method re-defines the widely-used concept of sensitivity at a point as the path-averaged sensitivity. The total differential and the complementary methods simply concern about the sensitivity at the initial or/and the terminal state, so that they cannot give precise results. The path-average sensitivity of water yield to climate conditions was found to be stable over time. Space-wise, moreover, it can be readily predicted even in the absence of streamflow observations, whereby facilitates evaluation of future climate effects on streamflow. As a mathematically accurate solution, the method provides a generic tool to conduct the quantitative attribution analyses.

Mingguo Zheng
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Short summary
This paper developed a mathematically precise method to partition climate and catchment effects on streamflow. The method reveals that both the change magnitude and pathway (timing of change), not the magnitude alone, dictate the partition unless for a linear system. The finding has wide relevance. For example, it suggests that the global warming effect of carbon emission is path dependent, and an optimal pathway would bring about a higher global budget of carbon emission.
This paper developed a mathematically precise method to partition climate and catchment effects...
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