Hydroclimatic dynamics in southwestern Romania drylands over the past 50 years

Abstract

The present paper examines hydroclimatic dynamics in southwestern Romania drylands, which is one of the country’s most heavily affected regions by climate change. The analysis focuses on two of the region’s representative catchments (Drincea and Desnatui), covers the past five decades (1961–2009), and is based on climate data (mean monthly and annual climatic water balance values – CWB, expressed in mm) and hydrological data (mean monthly and annual streamflow rate values – SFR, expressed in m3/s). The data were provided by five regional weather stations, i.e., by five gauging stations located within the two catchments. The analysis was conducted on three temporal scales (annual, seasonal and monthly), and used statistical methods, such as Mann–Kendall test/Sen’s slope method for trend analysis, and Spearman/Student test for the statistical association between climatic and hydrological parameters. The results indicated an overall increase in climatic water deficit, with direct effects on streamflow reduction. Statistically significant trends (climatic water deficit increase and streamflow decrease) were identified especially in spring (with maximum rate values of (−1.66 mm/yr)/(−81.3 mm/49 yrs), for the CWB, and (−0.02 m3/s/yr)/(−0.9 m3/s/49 yrs), for the SFR). In some cases (mainly in the autumn months) it was found that, while climatic water deficit has decreased, the streamflow rate has increased. Statistical correlations revealed the relationship between the considered hydroclimatic parameters, with a particularly high statistical significance in spring and summer. Weak and inverse correlations between climatic and hydrological parameters can be explained by the role of other factors controlling the streamflow, both natural (soil and lithology) and anthropogenic (wetland drainage, water body conversion, dam and reservoirs building).

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Acknowledgements

This work was performed as a part of research supported by the UEFISCDI PN-II-PTPCCA–2011–3.2 1427 (Project ECOMAGIS/No. 69/2012) and project COSMOMAR No. 58/2013 financed by STAR Program of ROSA. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their highly constructive comments and suggestions that helped to improve this paper.

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Correspondence to Remus Prăvălie.

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Corresponding editor: Rajib Maity

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Prăvălie, R., Zaharia, L., Bandoc, G. et al. Hydroclimatic dynamics in southwestern Romania drylands over the past 50 years. J Earth Syst Sci 125, 1255–1271 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-016-0730-x

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Keywords

  • Hydroclimatic dynamics
  • trends
  • statistical correlations
  • southwestern Romania
  • drylands
  • Drincea River
  • Desnatui River.