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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 7
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2573–2587, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-20-2573-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Catchment co-evolution: space–time patterns and functional...

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2573–2587, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-20-2573-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 04 Jul 2016

Research article | 04 Jul 2016

Dominant climatic factors driving annual runoff changes at the catchment scale across China

Zhongwei Huang1,2,3, Hanbo Yang1, and Dawen Yang1 Zhongwei Huang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Hydro-Science and Engineering, Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Abstract. With global climate changes intensifying, the hydrological response to climate changes has attracted more attention. It is beneficial not only for hydrology and ecology but also for water resource planning and management to understand the impact of climate change on runoff. In addition, there are large spatial variations in climate type and geographic characteristics across China. To gain a better understanding of the spatial variation of the response of runoff to changes in climatic factors and to detect the dominant climatic factors driving changes in annual runoff, we chose the climate elasticity method proposed by Yang and Yang (2011). It is shown that, in most catchments of China, increasing air temperature and relative humidity have negative impacts on runoff, while declining net radiation and wind speed have positive impacts on runoff, which slow the overall decline in runoff. The dominant climatic factors driving annual runoff are precipitation in most parts of China, net radiation mainly in some catchments of southern China, air temperature and wind speed mainly in some catchments in northern China.

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Short summary
The hydrologic processes have been influenced by different climatic factors. However, the dominant climatic factor driving annual runoff change is still unknown in many catchments in China. By using the climate elasticity method proposed by Yang and Yang (2011), the elasticity of runoff to climatic factors was estimated, and the dominant climatic factors driving annual runoff change were detected at catchment scale over China.
The hydrologic processes have been influenced by different climatic factors. However, the...
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