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Analysis of Changes in Climate and River Discharge with Focus on Seasonal Runoff Predictability in the Aksu River Basin

  • Krysanova, V.
  • Jiang, T.
  • Su, B.
  • Huang, S.
  • Wortmann, M.
  • Duethmann, D.
  • Hartmann, H.
  • Vorogushyn, S.
  • Merz, B.
  • Kundzewicz, Z. W.

The River Aksu is the principal tributary to the River Tarim, providing about three quarters of its discharge. It originates in Kyrgyzstan and flows into the arid areas of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, where an extensive irrigated agriculture has been developed in the river oases. The aim of the present contribution is to review the current trends in temperature, precipitation, and river discharge and links between these variables. The temperature in the region and the river discharge have been rising. Changes were studied using multiple trend analyses with different start and end years. Correlations between daily temperature and discharge are high and statistically significant for two headwater subcatchments of the Aksu for most of the time. However, there are episodes in late summer or beginning of autumn when correlations between temperature and discharge for the Xiehela station are absent. This can only be explained by Glacial Lake Outburst Floods from the Lake Merzbacher that are not routinely monitored. On an annual time scale, changes in summer discharge in the highly glacierized Xiehela subcatchment are dominated by changes in temperature. In contrast, in the subcatchment Shaliguilanke, variations in summer streamflow are more strongly influenced by variations in precipitation. A comparison of links between climatic variables and streamflow at different temporal scales is offered. Perspectives for seasonal forecasting are examined.

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