Climate Change Research ›› 2020, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (6): 667-678.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2020.006

• Changes in Climate System • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spring snowmelt flood estimate in the upper Heihe River under climate change

ZHU Guang-Xi1(), XIAO Cun-De1, CHEN Bo1, ZHAO Ying-Dong2   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2 Hydrology and Water Resources Bureau of Gansu Province, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2020-01-08 Revised:2020-02-20 Online:2020-11-30 Published:2020-12-03


Climate warming will lead to accelerate the melting speed in high-mountain cryosphere. On the one hand, it develops the uncertainty of the spatiotemporal distribution, on the other hand, it causes changes in the frequency and intensity of snowmelt floods. Based on meteorological, hydrological and MODIS snow cover data, using the Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) to simulate and verify the spring runoff result during the snowmelt period from 1990 to 2012 in Zarmsk controlling area in the Heihe River basin. Results show SRM has a high accuracy (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient = 0.91), which can be used to predict the future flood intensity changes in studying area. In order to predict the trends under the different future climate change background, the temperature and precipitation downscaling data were used. The results show that the maximum snow cover area can be reduced about 3%-7% in different RCPs scenario compared with the reference period, and the change is more relative to the increase of altitude. By the end of this century, the flood intensity shows different changes according to climate change situations compared with the reference period: in RCP2.6, due to the small changes of the temperature and precipitation, it will change slightly within 10%; in RCP4.5, it will increase about 20%; in RCP8.5, may be rise around 30%. The result of correlation analysis shows that the correlation between flood intensity and temperature/precipitation is strong for different return period floods: the longer return period, the higher correlation between flood peak flow and temperature; and the shorter return period, the higher correlation between flood peak flow and precipitation. By projecting the frequency and intensity of snowmelt flood events under climate change, it is helpful to analyze the potential risk scope, carry out regional flood risk management and increase the value of flood water resources.

Key words: High mountain area, Snowmelt flood, Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM), Climate change projection

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