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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 676030, 10 pages
Research Article

Hydrologic Responses to Land Use Change in the Loess Plateau: Case Study in the Upper Fenhe River Watershed

1Key Laboratory of Ecohydrology of Inland River Basin, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou 730000, China
2University of the Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing 100049, China
3Institute of Loess Plateau, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, China
4The Australia China Centre on Water Resources Research, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
5School of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
6Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received 20 November 2014; Revised 12 March 2015; Accepted 16 March 2015

Academic Editor: Yongqiang Zhang

Copyright © 2015 Zhixiang Lu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We applied an integrated approach to investigate the impacts of land use and land cover (LULC) changes on hydrology at different scales in the Loess Plateau of China. Hydrological modeling was conducted for the LULC maps from remote sensing images at two times in the Upper Fenhe River watershed using the SWAT model. The main LULC changes in this watershed from 1995 to 2010 were the transformation of farmland into forests, grassland, and built-up land. The simulation results showed that forested land contributed more than any other LULC class to water yield, but built-up land had most impact due to small initial loss and infiltration. At basin scale, a comparison of the simulated hydrological components of two LULC maps showed that there were slight increases in average annual potential evapotranspiration, actual evapotranspiration, and water yield, but soil water decreased, between the two intervals. In subbasins, obvious LULC changes did not have clear impacts on hydrology, and the impacts may be affected by precipitation conditions. By linking a hydrological model to remote sensing image analysis, our approach of quantifying the impacts of LULC changes on hydrology at different scales provide quantitative information for stakeholders in making decisions for land and water resource management.