UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Hydrological Impact of Extreme Weather-Induced Forest Disturbances in a Tropical Experimental Watershed in South China Hou, Yiping; Zhang, Mingfang; Liu, Shirong; Sun, Pengsen; Yin, Lihe; Yang, Taoli; Li, Yide; Li, Qiang; Wei, Xiaohua

Abstract

Tropical forests are frequently disturbed by extreme weather events including tropical cyclones and cold waves, which can not only yield direct impact on hydrological processes but also produce indirect effect on hydrology by disturbing growth and structures of tropical forests. However, the hydrological response to extreme weather-induced forest disturbances especially in tropical forested watersheds has been less evaluated. In this study, a tropical experimental watershed in Hainan Province, China, was selected to investigate the hydrological responses to extreme weather-induced forest disturbances by use of a single watershed approach and the paired-year approach. Key results are: (1) extreme weather-induced forest disturbances (e.g., typhoon and cold wave) generally had a positive effect on streamflow in the study watershed, while climate variability either yielded a negative effect or a positive effect in different periods; (2) the response of low flows to forest discussion was more pronounced; (3) the relative contribution of forest disturbances to annual streamflow (48.6%) was higher than that of climate variability (43.0%) from 1995 to 2005. Given the increasing extreme weather with climate change and their possible catastrophic effects on tropical forests and hydrology in recent decades, these findings are essential for future adaptive water resources and forest management in the tropical forested watersheds.

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