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Journal Article

Impacts of climate change on flow regime and sequential threats to riverine ecosystem in the source region of the Yellow River


Wang,  X.
External Organizations;

Yang,  T.
External Organizations;

Yong,  B.
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Krysanova,  Valentina
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Shi,  P.
External Organizations;

Li,  Z.
External Organizations;

Zhou,  X.
External Organizations;

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Wang, X., Yang, T., Yong, B., Krysanova, V., Shi, P., Li, Z., Zhou, X. (2018): Impacts of climate change on flow regime and sequential threats to riverine ecosystem in the source region of the Yellow River. - Environmental Earth Sciences, 77, 465.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23058
Climate change is expected to have substantial impacts on flow regime in the Upper Yellow River (UYR) basin that is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world. These impacts will most possibly exert negative effects on the habitat availability for riverine species. Thus, it is necessary to understand the alteration of river flow regime under climate scenarios. In this paper, we use the modified hydrological model HBV in conjunction with three general circulation models under three representative concentration pathways (RCP 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5) to address changes in flow regime under climate change for the UYR basin in the mid-term (2050s) and end-term (2080s) of the twenty-first century. Flow regime is quantified using the Indicators of hydrological alteration approach. Thereafter, the potential threats to riverine ecosystem in the UYR basin are identified based on the projected alterations of various flow characteristics and their ecological influences. The results showed that the magnitude of monthly flow would increase during the dry period. The date of the annual 1-day minimum streamflow will likely shift toward earlier time under different scenarios, and significant increases in magnitude of annual minimum flow of different durations were detected under both RCP 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios in the 2080s. In addition, assessments of the modification degree of the overall flow regime revealed that climate change would remarkably modify (medium level) the overall flow regime in the UYR basin, particularly by the end of the twenty-first century or under the high emission scenarios. Besides, destruction of habitat and reduced availability of food induced by substantially increased hydrological instability in the 2080s would make two endangered fishes more vulnerable in the UYR basin. These findings provide insights into potential adaptive countermeasures for water resource management and environmental system restoration in the Upper Yellow River.