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Annual runoff and evapotranspiration of forestlands and non-forestlands in selected basins of the Loess Plateau of China

Authors

  • Yanhui Wang,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
    • The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China.
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  • Pengtao Yu,

    1. The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
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  • Karl-Heinz Feger,

    1. Department of Soil Science and Site Ecology, Faculty of Forest, Geo- and Hydrosciences, Dresden Water Center, Dresden University of Technology, Tharandt 01735, Germany
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  • Xiaohua Wei,

    1. Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, British Columbia V1V 1V7, Canada
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  • Ge Sun,

    1. Southern Global Change Program, USDA Forest Service, 920 Main Campus Dr., Venture II, Suite 300, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
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  • Mike Bonell,

    1. The UNESCO IHP-HELP Centre, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, UK
    2. Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
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  • Wei Xiong,

    1. The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
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  • Shulan Zhang,

    1. The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
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  • Lihong Xu

    1. The Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, The Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
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Abstract

Large-scale forestation has been undertaken over decades principally to control the serious soil erosion in the Loess Plateau of China. A quantitative assessment of the hydrological effects of forestation, especially on basin water yield, is critical for the sustainable forestry development within this dry region. In this study, we constructed the multi-annual water balances to estimate the respective grand average of annual evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff for forestlands and non-forestlands of 57 basins. The overall annual runoff and corresponding runoff/precipitation ratio were low, with a mean of 33 mm (7%) ranging from 10 (2%) to 56 mm (15%). Taking the grand average of annual precipitation of 463 mm for all basins, the corresponding grand averages of annual ET and runoff were 447 and 16 mm for forestlands, 424 and 39 mm for non-forestlands, respectively. Thus, the corresponding ratios of annual ET and runoff to precipitation were 91·7 and 8·3% for non-forestlands, 96·6 and 3·4% for forestlands, respectively. Although the absolute difference in grand average of annual runoff was only 23 mm, it represents a large difference in relative terms, as it equates up to 58% of annual runoff from non-forestlands. We argue that the large-scale forestation may have serious consequences for water management and sustainable development in the dry region of NW China because of a runoff reduction. This study highlights the importance of quantifying the ET of forests and other land uses and to examine how land cover change may affect the water balances in an arid environment. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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