PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 304-315.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.02.010

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Investigating the mechanisms of streamflow change in the Beichuan River Basin, Qinghai Province: Based on modeling and statistic analyses

LIU Zhe1,2,4(), CUO Lan1,2,3,4,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4. State Key Laboratory of Tibetan Plateau Earth System, Resources and Environment (TPESRE), Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2021-05-01 Revised:2021-09-20 Online:2022-02-28 Published:2022-04-28
  • Contact: CUO Lan;
  • Supported by:
    Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA20060202);The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program(2019QZKK0203);National Natural Science Foundation(41571067)


Climate change and land use/cover change (LUCC) are two major drivers that impact streamflow. Deconvolving the impacts of climate change and LUCC on streamflow will benefit local water resources management. In this study, two methods—the Budyko water balance method and the Distributed-Hydrology-Soil-Vegetation Model (DHSVM) coupled with a new reservoir regulation scheme—were used to deconvolve the impacts of climate change and LUCC on the streamflow in the Beichuan River Basin, Qinghai Province, to reduce uncertainty in the results inherited from the individual methods through cross examination. The study found that: 1) Streamflow at the basin outlet decreased at 0.037 m3/s per year in 1967-2019, and the abrupt change occurred in 1969. 2) Both methods agree that the relative impacts of the decadal climate change during the past five decades were in the order of 1990s > 2000s > 1970s > 1980s = 2010s, and LUCC was the dominant driver for streamflow reduction at the outlet for 1970-2019, with 94.58% and 65.68% contributions for the Budyko method and the DHSVM, respectively. 3) The Budyko method specializes in assessing the change of the entire river basin, while the distributed hydrologic modeling can efficiently describe the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of the impacts across the basin. The modeling showed that streamflow changes in the upstream and midstream was dominated by climate change, but downstream flow change was controlled by LUCC. Reservoir regulation exerted important impact on monthly streamflow. The possible reasons of the discrepancies in climate change and LUCC impacts estimated by the two methods were also discussed.

Key words: streamflow, climate change, land use/cover change, Budyko, DHSVM, reservoir regulation, Beichuan River Basin