Deducing Climatic Elasticity to Assess Projected Climate Change Impacts on Streamflow Change across China

Jianyu Liu, Qiang Zhang*, Yongqiang Zhang, Xi Chen, Jianfeng LI, Santosh K. Aryal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Climatic elasticity has been widely applied to assess streamflow responses to climate changes. To fully assess impacts of climate under global warming on streamflow and reduce the error and uncertainty from various control variables, we develop a four-parameter (precipitation, catchment characteristics n, and maximum and minimum temperatures) climatic elasticity method named PnT, based on the widely used Budyko framework and simplified Makkink equation. We use this method to carry out the first comprehensive evaluation of the streamflow response to potential climate change for 372 widely spread catchments in China. The PnT climatic elasticity was first evaluated for a period 1980–2000, and then used to evaluate streamflow change response to climate change based on 12 global climate models under Representative Concentration Pathway 2.6 (RCP2.6) and RCP 8.5 emission scenarios. The results show that (1) the PnT climatic elasticity method is reliable; (2) projected increasing streamflow takes place in more than 60% of the selected catchments, with mean increments of 9% and 15.4% under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 respectively; and (3) uncertainties in the projected streamflow are considerable in several regions, such as the Pearl River and Yellow River, with more than 40% of the selected catchments showing inconsistent change directions. Our results can help Chinese policy makers to manage and plan water resources more effectively, and the PnT climatic elasticity should be applied to other parts of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10228-10245
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • climatic elasticity
  • climatic impacts
  • GCMs
  • model assemble
  • streamflow
  • water resources


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