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Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 911-927, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-911-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
01 Feb 2018
Aerial and surface rivers: downwind impacts on water availability from land use changes in Amazonia
Wei Weng1,2,3, Matthias K. B. Luedeke1, Delphine C. Zemp1,4, Tobia Lakes2,3, and Juergen P. Kropp1,5 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
3Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
4Biodiversity, Macroecology & Biogeography, University of Goettingen, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
5Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Abstract. The abundant evapotranspiration provided by the Amazon forests is an important component of the hydrological cycle, both regionally and globally. Since the last century, deforestation and expanding agricultural activities have been changing the ecosystem and its provision of moisture to the atmosphere. However, it remains uncertain how the ongoing land use change will influence rainfall, runoff, and water availability as findings from previous studies differ. Using moisture tracking experiments based on observational data, we provide a spatially detailed analysis recognizing potential teleconnection between source and sink regions of atmospheric moisture. We apply land use scenarios in upwind moisture sources and quantify the corresponding rainfall and runoff changes in downwind moisture sinks. We find spatially varying responses of water regimes to land use changes, which may explain the diverse results from previous studies. Parts of the Peruvian Amazon and western Bolivia are identified as the sink areas most sensitive to land use change in the Amazon and we highlight the current water stress by Amazonian land use change on these areas in terms of the water availability. Furthermore, we also identify the influential source areas where land use change may considerably reduce a given target sink's water reception (from our example of the Ucayali River basin outlet, rainfall by 5–12 % and runoff by 19–50 % according to scenarios). Sensitive sinks and influential sources are therefore suggested as hotspots for achieving sustainable land–water management.

Citation: Weng, W., Luedeke, M. K. B., Zemp, D. C., Lakes, T., and Kropp, J. P.: Aerial and surface rivers: downwind impacts on water availability from land use changes in Amazonia, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 911-927, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-911-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
We provide a detailed spatial analysis of hydrological impacts of land use change in Amazonia, focusing on the aspect of aerial rivers. Our approach of observation-based atmospheric moisture tracking allows us to recognize potential teleconnection between source and sink regions of atmospheric moisture. Relying on a quantitative assessment, we identified regions where water availability is most sensitive to land use change and regions where land use change is critical for a given sink region.
We provide a detailed spatial analysis of hydrological impacts of land use change in Amazonia,...
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