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Is observation uncertainty masking the signal of land use change impacts on hydrology?
Justus Liebig Univ Giessen, Inst Landscape Ecol & Resources Management, Res Ctr BioSyst Land Use & Nutr iPZ, Heinrich Buff Ring 26, D-35392 Giessen, Germany;Addis Ababa Univ, Ethiopian Inst Water Resources, POB 150641, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. CNDS, Ctr Nat Hazards & Disaster Sci, Uppsala, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8180-4996
Swedish Univ Agr Sci, Dept Aquat Sci & Assessment, S-75007 Uppsala, Sweden.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. Karlstad Univ, CCS, SE-65188 Karlstad, Sweden.
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Hydrology, ISSN 0022-1694, E-ISSN 1879-2707, Vol. 570, p. 393-400Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Analysis of hydrological impacts of land use change raises questions about whether, and how much, such impacts are misrepresented because of errors in river flow observations. In this paper, land use change impacts (represented by changes in watershed storage) and different ranges of discharge measurement error are compared to assess how errors in discharge measurement can potentially mask a land use change impact. Using a watershed from the Ethiopian highlands to exemplify this, we simulated five different levels of land use change impacts with five levels of watershed storage reductions (from 10% to 50% change) and the associated time series of runoff. Different levels of observation error were then introduced into these artificial time series. Comparison was made between every pair, i.e. a time series derived from a certain level of land use change (storage reduction) versus a time series corresponding to a given level of observation error, using a step-change t-test. Significant step-changes between pairs define the detectability of land use change impact. The analysis was made for the entire 30-year time series as well as for the most extreme annual weather conditions. The results showed that for the average year and wettest year, 75% or more error in observed discharge masks the maximum simulated land use change impact on hydrology. In dry years, a 50% error in discharge is enough to mask the same impact. Knowing (and improving) the level of data quality contributes to a better understanding of hydrological uncertainties and improves the precision in assessing land use change impacts. Both of these are essential elements in water resources development planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV , 2019. Vol. 570, p. 393-400
Keywords [en]
Detectability, Discharge, Error range, Watershed storage, Upper-Didesa watershed
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology and Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-380488DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.12.058ISI: 000460709400031OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-380488DiVA, id: diva2:1299849
Available from: 2019-03-28 Created: 2019-03-28 Last updated: 2019-03-28Bibliographically approved

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Di Baldassarre, GiulianoHalldin, Sven

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