Abstract

It is critically important to quantify the impact of land use land cover (LULC) changes on hydrology, and to understand the mechanism by which LULC changes affect the hydrological process in a river basin. To accurately simulate the hydrological process for a watershed like the Wei River Basin, where the surface characteristics are highly modified by human activities, we present an alternative approach of time-varying parameters in a hydrological model to reflect the changes in underlying land surfaces. The spatiotemporal impacts of LULC changes on watershed streamflow are quantified, and the mechanism that connects the changes in runoff generation and streamflow with LULC is explored. Results indicate the following: (1) time-varying parameters’ calibration is effective to ensure model validity when dealing with significant changes in underlying land surfaces; (2) LULC changes have significant impacts on the watershed streamflow, especially on the streamflow during the dry season; (3) the expansion of cropland is the major contributor to the reduction of surface water, causing decline in annual and dry seasonal streamflow. However, the shrinkage of woodland is the main driving force that decreases the soil water, thus contributing to a little increase in streamflow during the dry season.

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