Climate change and runoff response based on isotope analysis in an arid mountain watershed of the western Kunlun Mountains

Climate change and runoff response were assessed for the Tizinafu River basin in the western Kunlun Mountains, China, based on isotope analysis. We examined climate change in the past 50 years using meteorological data from 1957 to 2010. Results of the Mann-Kendall non-parametric technique test indicated that temperature in the entire basin and precipitation in the mountains exhibited significant increasing trends. Climate change also led to significant increasing trends in autumn and winter runoff but not in spring runoff. By using 122 isotope samples, we investigated the variations of isotopes in different water sources and analysed the contributions of different water sources based on isotope hydrograph separation. The results show that meltwater, groundwater and rainfall contribute 17%, 40% and 43% of the annual streamflow, respectively. Isotope analysis was also used to explain the difference in seasonal runoff responses to climate change. As the Tizinafu is a precipitation-dependent river, future climate change in precipitation is a major concern for water resource management.

EDITOR A. Castellarin; ASSOCIATE EDITOR S. Huang

EDITOR A. Castellarin; ASSOCIATE EDITOR S. Huang