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Land-cover changes and recent hydrological evolution in the Duero Basin (Spain)

AutorMorán-Tejeda, Enrique ; Ceballos-Barbancho, Antonio; Llorente-Pinto, J. M.; López-Moreno, Juan I.
Fecha de publicación2012
CitaciónRegional Environmental Change 12: 17- 33 (2012)
ResumenLand-use and land-cover changes have attracted substantial scientific interest in recent years because of their marked influence on hydrological cycles. In developed countries of the Mediterranean basin, the generalized revegetation and forest growth in mountainous areas that occurred during the last five decades are negatively affecting the evolution of water resources in headwaters. In this study, changes in land cover in the Duero River Basin (northern Spain) during the last 50 years were analyzed and their role in hydrological evolution was estimated. For this purpose, step-wise linear regressions were developed to estimate the evolution of runoff as a function of climate (precipitation and temperatures). The results show a significant expansion of forest cover in the headwaters, although it has been more extensive in the mountains to the north of the basin than to the south. River discharges in the headwaters underwent a generalized decline during the study period (1961-2006), but precipitation over the same period did not show an appreciable trend. In the absence of noticeable trends in removal of water for human consumption, our results indicate that revegetation is contributing to the observed hydrological decline. Our hypothesis is confirmed because of the greater divergence in the evolution of precipitation and runoff in the northern headwaters (more forest growth) than in the south headwaters (less forest growth). Results suggest that further increases in forest area will enhance hydrological decline and highlight the importance of integrating land-cover information in water availability assessments in a region where water is a strategic resource. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-011-0236-7
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1007/s10113-011-0236-7
issn: 1436-3798
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