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Keywords:

  • Minjiang River;
  • Normalized Difference of Vegetation Index;
  • climate change;
  • streamflow;
  • seasonal Mann-Kendall test;
  • time series

Abstract:  Increasing regional vegetation activity has been frequently found especially in middle and high latitude and alpine areas, but the effects of which on regional hydrology is still highly uncertain. The Upstream Catchment of Minjiang River is a large mountainous catchment covering 22,919 km2 with a diverse vegetation distribution pattern, including alpine group (A), subalpine group (SA), and temperate and subtropical group (T/ST). The Seasonal Mann-Kendall test, a nonparametric trend test method, detected consistent upward trends in all groups in monthly accumulated growing degree days (AGDDM) time series from 1982 to 2003, but no significant trend in mean monthly precipitation (MMP) time series in any group. The alpine group had a significant (= 0.024) upward trend in monthly Normalized Difference of Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series from 1982 to 2003, in contrast, the SA and T/ST groups had decreasing (although not significant) trends. AGDDM plays more important role than MMP in affecting NDVI change in alpine areas, indicating temperature was the main climatic driver. In contrast, water was the main driver for the T/ST group, as indicated by the significant correlation between NDVI and MMP and a weak correlation with AGDDM. Correlation coefficients of NDVI and river flow varied with seasons, mostly negative, especially during the growing season (April to October). A significant (= 0.025) correlation was found only in August, indicating that an increase in peak-NDVI decreased high flow significantly. TI-NDVIc, which was developed in an attempt to track the vegetation change at the catchment scale, accounted for more than 40% of the evapotranspiration increase (r2 = 0.43).