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01.10.2020 | Original Article | Ausgabe 19/2020 Open Access

Environmental Earth Sciences 19/2020

Quantifying the impacts of land use/land cover change on the water balance in the afforested River Basin, Pakistan

Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 19/2020
Naeem Saddique, Talha Mahmood, Christian Bernhofer
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Land use and land cover (LULC) change is one of the key driving elements responsible for altering the hydrology of a watershed. In this study, we investigated the spatio-temporal LULC changes between 2001 and 2018 and their impacts on the water balance of the Jhelum River Basin. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to analyze the impacts on water yield (WY) and evapotranspiration (ET). The model was calibrated and validated with discharge data between 1995 and 2005 and then simulated with different land use. The increase was observed in forest, settlement and water areas during the study period. At the catchment scale, we found that afforestation has reduced the WY and surface runoff, while enhanced the ET. Moreover, this change was more pronounced at the sub-basin scale. Some sub-basins, especially in the northern part of the study area, exhibited an increase in WY due to an increase in the snow cover area. Similarly, extremes land use scenarios also showed significant impact on water balance components. The basin WY has decreased by 38 mm/year and ET has increased about 36 mm/year. The findings of this study could guide the watershed manager in the development of sustainable LULC planning and water resources management.
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