Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2017, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (6): 534-542.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2017.00534

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Comparison of precipitation and evapotranspiration of five different land-cover types in the high mountainous region

Yong Yang, RenSheng Chen, YaoXuan Song, ChunTan Han, JunFeng Liu, ZhangWen Liu   

  1. Qilian Alpine Ecology and Hydrology Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecohydrology Inland River Basin, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2017-08-23 Online:2017-12-01 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: Professor RenSheng Chen, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences. No. 320, West Donggang Road, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China.
  • Supported by:
    This work was carried out with financial support from the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (41401041) and the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CBA01806).

Abstract: Many rivers originate in high mountainous regions. However, the effects of climate warming on the runoff and water balance in these regions remain unclear due to the lack of observational data from harsh environments, and the variable influences of climate change on alpine land-cover types with different water balances. Using observations and simulations from CoupModel, water-balance values collected at five alpine land-cover types (steppe, shrub meadow, moist meadow, swamp meadow, and moraine) in a small alpine watershed, the Qilian Mountains in Northwest China, from October 2008 to September 2014, were compared. Measured evapotranspiration, multilayer soil temperatures and water contents, and frozen-depth data were used to validate CoupModel outputs. The results show that elevation is the primary influence on precipitation, evapotranspiration, and runoff coefficients in alpine regions. Land-cover types at higher elevations receive more precipitation and have a larger runoff coefficient. Notably, climate warming not only increases evapotranspiration but also particularly increases the evapotranspiration/precipitation ratio due to an upward shift in the optimum elevation of plant species. These factors lead to decrease runoff coefficients in alpine basins.

Key words: global warming, land-cover types, water balance, elevation, runoff coefficient

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