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Proposing a trend-based time-varying approach to assess climate- and human-induced impacts on streamflow

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The conventional abrupt change-based assessments of climate- and human-induced impacts on streamflow require the existence of change point(s) and stationarity assumption. However, hydrological conditions may not change abruptly at a certain time, but rather evolve gradually over a period. We propose a trend-based time-varying approach that does not require these prerequisites to assess the climate- and human-induced impacts on hydrological conditions in the Pearl River Basin (PRB), China, which can be applied in other basins. The trend-based time-varying approach detects human activities exert a significant seasonal regulation on streamflow (i.e. 113% of the decreases in the wet season and 93% of the increases in the dry season) and 101% of the reductions in flood peaks in the East River Basin, the sub-basin with the highest ratio of total reservoir storage capacity to river discharge in the PRB. Climate change contributes to 77% of the increases in flood peaks in the West River Basin, a large sub-basin with lower flood control levels.

Keywords: Pearl River Basin; climate change; floods; human-induced impacts; streamflow; time-varying

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China 2: School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Dumfries, UK 3: School of Humanities and Social Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, China 4: CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, Australia

Publication date: September 9, 2020

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