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Title: A comparative analysis of the impacts of climate change and irrigation on land surface and subsurface hydrology in the North China Plain

The Community Land Model 4.0 (CLM4) was used to investigate and compare the effects of climate change and irrigation on terrestrial water cycle. Three climate change scenarios and one irrigation scenario (IRRIG) were simulated in the North China Plain (NCP), which is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and human perturbations in China. The climate change scenarios consist of (1) HOT (i.e. temperature increase by 2oC); (2) HOTWET (same with HOT but with an increase of precipitation by 15%); (3) HOTDRY (same with HOT but with a decrease of precipitation by 15%). In the IRRIG scenario, the irrigation scheme was calibrated to simulate irrigation amounts that match the actual irrigation amounts and irrigation was divided between surface water and groundwater withdrawals based on census data. Our results show that the impacts of climate change were more widespread while those of irrigation were concentrated only over the agricultural regions. Specifically, the mean water table depth was simulated to decline persistently by over 1 m annually due to groundwater exploitation during the period of 1980-2000, while much smaller effects were induced by climate change. Although irrigation has comparable effects on surface fluxes and surface soil moisture as climate change,more » it has much greater effects on water table depth and groundwater storage. Moreover, irrigation has much larger effects on the top layer soil moisture whereas increase in precipitation associated with climate change exerts more influence on lower layer soil moisture. This study emphasizes the need to accurately account for irrigation impacts in adapting to climate change.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Regional Environmental Change, 15(2):251-263
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
climate change; irrigation; land surface/subsurface hydrology; North china Plain