Land use is the main factor that influences catchment hydrologic processes, and a better understanding of its effect is important for future land use planning and water resource management. By applying the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), we assessed the effects of land use changes on major hydrologic processes (evapotranspiration (ET), discharge, river) on a large plain irrigation district, the Hetao Irrigation District (HID), China. The results indicated that SWAT was a useful tool for simulating the effects of land use changes on regional hydrologic processes. Human activities were the main factors that directly influenced land use in the HID. Land use changes had important impacts on the hydrologic processes of the HID. During 1995–2010, the land use changed greatly in the HID, leading to the changes in ET and discharge. The peak value of ET coincided with the exuberant crop growth period in the maximized sown crop area. In 1995s, wheat maximized the sown area and ET peaked in June; when sunflower and corn maximized the sown area in 2010s, ET peaked in July and August. The increased ET reduced discharge in the same period in the HID. Land use change affected the period and quantity of water diversion in the irrigation district. The quantity of water diverted in 1995 was greater than that in 2010, indicating that land use change significantly impacted the water quantity of the river, which was the water source of the irrigation district. This study will be a reference for future land use planning and water resource management in the irrigation district.
Water Resources Management – Springer Journals
Published: May 7, 2018
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