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Effects of forest composition and spatial patterns on storm flows of a small watershed

Formally Refereed
Authors: Shi Qi, Yunqi Wang, Ge Sun, Yubao Xiao, Jinzhao Zhu, Hailong Yang, Xiaojing Hu, Bin Wu, Yujie Wang, Steve G. McNulty
Year: 2009
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association


The PRMS_Storm model was built as a storm event, distributed hydrological model for studying the hydrological effects of forest composition and spatial distribution on storm-flow volume and peakflow rates in the Xiangshuixi Watershed in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, in the Yangtze River Basin in southwestern China. We developed three simulation scenarios based on forest composition and their spatial arrangements across the watershed, including all mixed conifer-evergreen broadleaf forests (Scenario 1), all mixed evergreen broadleaf forests (Scenario 2), and mixed conifer + evergreen broadleaf + shrub forests (Scenario 3). We examined 11 storm events observed during 2002-2005. Compared with the existing forest covers, modeling results suggested that the amount of overland flow was reduced by 21, 23, and 22%, and the interflow increased by 16, 88, and 30%, for Scenarios 1, 2, and 3, respectively. During the same time, peakflow rates were reduced by 20.8, 9.6, and 18.9%, respectively. The reduction of peakflow rates was most significant when rainfall intensity exceeded 0.8 mm ⁄min and events with a short duration and effect was minor when rainfall intensity was below 0.5 mm ⁄min. In general, we found that Scenarios 1 and 3 were preferred for reducing storm-flow volume and peakflow rates due to their higher interception rates, large soil water holding capacity, and higher soil infiltration capacity. The modeled results suggested soil properties are important in affecting the flow processes and thus forest composition and forest spatial distributions will affect storm-flow volume and peakflow rates at the watershed scale. To maximize flood reduction functions of a watershed, high priority should be given to those forest types (Scenarios 1 and 3) in reforestation practices in the study region. This study suggests both forest composition and spatial pattern are important reforestation designs for flood reduction in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area.


forest composition, PRMS_Storm, Three Gorges Reservoir Area, forest hydrology


Qi, Shi; Wang, Yunqi; Sun, Ge; Xiao, Yubao; Zhu, Jinzhao; Yang, Hailong; Hu, Xiaojing; Wu, Bin; Wang, Yujie; McNulty, Steve G. 2009. Effects of Forest Composition and Spatial Patterns on Storm Flows of a Small Watershed. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 45(5): 1142-1154.