Impacts of Hydrological Changes on Annual Runoff Distribution in Seasonally Dry Basins

Abstract

Runoff is expected to change due to climate and land use change. Because it constitutes a large component of the terrestrial water budget, we need to develop new policies for managing regional water resources. To do so, we must first attribute changes in the natural flow regime to either climate or land use change. In this context, the Budyko’s curve has previously been adopted to separate the impacts of climate and land use change on runoff by using long term hydrological variables. In this study, a framework based on Fu’s equation (which describes Budyko’s curve) is used to separate the impacts of climate and land use change on annual runoff distributions. Specifically, this framework is based on a recently developed method to obtain annual runoff probability density function (pdf) in seasonally dry basins—such as those in Mediterranean regions—from climate statistics and Fu’s equation parameter ω. The effect of climate change is captured through variations in the first order statistics of annual rainfall and potential evapotranspiration, while land use change is represented by changes in Fu’s equation parameter ω. The effects of these two drivers (i.e., climate and land use change) are analyzed by reconstructing the annual runoff pdfs for the current period and for likely future scenarios, based on predictions from global circulation models and urbanization trajectories. The results show that climate change can lead to a strong reduction in mean annual runoff, a shift of the runoff pdf toward lower values, and a decrease in its variance. Concurrent changes in climate and land use almost always result in a reduction in the mean annual runoff, due to the greater impact of climate change on the runoff pdf.

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Fondazione di Sardegna, F71I17000270002.

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Correspondence to Francesco Viola.

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Viola, F., Feng, X. & Caracciolo, D. Impacts of Hydrological Changes on Annual Runoff Distribution in Seasonally Dry Basins. Water Resour Manage 33, 2319–2333 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-019-02250-7

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Keywords

  • Annual runoff distribution
  • Budyko’s curve
  • Climate change
  • Land use change