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10 June 2021, Volume 13 Issue 6 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Adaptability of machine learning methods and hydrological models to discharge simulations in data-sparse glaciated watersheds
JI Huiping, CHEN Yaning, FANG Gonghuan, LI Zhi, DUAN Weili, ZHANG Qifei
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 549-567.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0066-5
Abstract ( 488 )   HTML ( 664 )     PDF (1487KB) ( 367 )  

The accurate simulation and prediction of runoff in alpine glaciated watersheds is of increasing importance for the comprehensive management and utilization of water resources. In this study, long short-term memory (LSTM), a state-of-the-art artificial neural network algorithm, is applied to simulate the daily discharge of two data-sparse glaciated watersheds in the Tianshan Mountains in Central Asia. Two other classic machine learning methods, namely extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) and support vector regression (SVR), along with a distributed hydrological model (Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and an extended SWAT model (SWAT_Glacier) are also employed for comparison. This paper aims to provide an efficient and reliable method for simulating discharge in glaciated alpine regions that have insufficient observed meteorological data. The two typical basins in this study are the main tributaries (the Kumaric and Toxkan rivers) of the Aksu River in the south Tianshan Mountains, which are dominated by snow and glacier meltwater and precipitation. Our comparative analysis indicates that simulations from the LSTM shows the best agreement with the observations. The performance metrics Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficient (NS) and correlation coefficient (R2) of LSTM are higher than 0.90 in both the training and testing periods in the Kumaric River Basin, and NS and R 2 are also higher than 0.70 in the Toxkan River Basin. Compared to classic machine learning algorithms, LSTM shows significant advantages over most evaluating indices. XGBoost also has high NS value in the training period, but is prone to overfitting the discharge. Compared with the widely used hydrological models, LSTM has advantages in predicting accuracy, despite having fewer data inputs. Moreover, LSTM only requires meteorological data rather than physical characteristics of underlying data. As an extension of SWAT, the SWAT_Glacier model shows good adaptability in discharge simulation, outperforming the original SWAT model, but at the cost of increasing the complexity of the model. Compared with the oftentimes complex semi-distributed physical hydrological models, the LSTM method not only eliminates the tedious calibration process of hydrological parameters, but also significantly reduces the calculation time and costs. Overall, LSTM shows immense promise in dealing with scarce meteorological data in glaciated catchments.

Projections of temperature extremes based on preferred CMIP5 models: a case study in the Kaidu-Kongqi River basin in Northwest China
CHEN Li, XU Changchun, LI Xiaofei
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 568-580.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0101-6
Abstract ( 134 )   HTML ( 441 )     PDF (2228KB) ( 328 )  

The extreme temperature has more outstanding impact on ecology and water resources in arid regions than the average temperature. Using the downscaled daily temperature data from 21 Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP) models of NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP) and the observation data, this paper analyzed the changes in temporal and spatiotemporal variation of temperature extremes, i.e., the maximum temperature (Tmax) and minimum temperature (Tmin), in the Kaidu-Kongqi River basin in Northwest China over the period 2020-2050 based on the evaluation of preferred Multi-Model Ensemble (MME). Results showed that the Partial Least Square ensemble mean participated by Preferred Models (PM-PLS) was better representing the temporal change and spatial distribution of temperature extremes during 1961-2005 and was chosen to project the future change. In 2020-2050, the increasing rate of Tmax (Tmin) under RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 8.5 will be 2.0 (1.6) times that under RCP4.5, and that of Tmin will be larger than that of Tmax under each corresponding RCP. Tmin will keep contributing more to global warming than Tmax. The spatial distribution characteristics of Tmax and Tmin under the two RCPs will overall the same; but compared to the baseline period (1986-2005), the increments of Tmax and Tmin in plain area will be larger than those in mountainous area. With the emission concentration increased, however, the response of Tmax in mountainous area will be more sensitive than that in plain area, and that of Tmin will be equivalently sensitive in mountainous area and plain area. The impacts induced by Tmin will be universal and far-reaching. Results of spatiotemporal variation of temperature extremes indicate that large increases in the magnitude of warming in the basin may occur in the future. The projections can provide the scientific basis for water and land plan management and disaster prevention and mitigation in the inland river basin.

Impacts of climate change and human activities on water resources in the Ebinur Lake Basin, Northwest China
WANG Yuejian, GU Xinchen, YANG Guang, YAO Junqiang, LIAO Na
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 581-598.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0067-4
Abstract ( 358 )   HTML ( 10 )     PDF (1473KB) ( 463 )  

Changing climatic conditions and extensive human activities have influenced the global water cycle. In recent years, significant changes in climate and land use have degraded the watershed ecosystem of the Ebinur Lake Basin in Xinjiang, Northwest China. In this paper, variations of runoff, temperature, precipitation, reference evapotranspiration, lake area, socio-economic water usage, groundwater level and water quality in the Ebinur Lake Basin from 1961 to 2015 were systematically analyzed by the Mann-Kendall test methods (M-K) mutation test, the cumulative levelling method, the climate-sensitive method and land-use change index. In addition, we evaluated the effects of human activities on land use change and water quality. The results reveal that there was a significant increase in temperature and precipitation from 1961 to 2015, despite a decrease in reference evapotranspiration. The Wenquan station was not significantly affected by human activities as it is situated at a higher altitude. Runoff at this station increased significantly with climate warming. In contrast, runoff at the Jinghe station was severely affected by numerous human activities. Runoff decreased without obvious fluctuations. The contributions of climate change to runoff variation at the Jinghe and Wenquan stations were 46.87% and 58.94%, respectively; and the contributions of human activities were 53.13% and 41.06%, respectively. Land-use patterns in the basin have changed significantly between 1990 and 2015: urban and rural constructed lands, saline-alkali land, bare land, cultivated land, and forest land have expanded, while areas under grassland, lake, ice/snow and river/channel have declined. Human activities have dramatically intensified land degradation and desertification. From 1961 to 2015, both the inflow into the Ebinur Lake and the area of the lake have declined year by year; groundwater levels have dropped significantly, and the water quality has deteriorated during the study period. In the oasis irrigation area below the runoff pass, human activities mainly influenced the utilization mode and quantity of water resources. Changes in the hydrology and quantity of water resources were driven primarily by the continuous expansion of cultivated land and oasis, as well as the growth of population and the construction of hydraulic engineering projects. After 2015, the effects of some ecological protection projects were observed. However, there was no obvious sign of ecological improvement in the basin, and some environmental problems continue to persist. On this basis, this study recommends that the expansion of oasis should be limited according to the carrying capacity of the local water bodies. Moreover, in order to ensure the ecological security of the basin, it is necessary to determine the optimal oasis area for sustainable development and improve the efficiency of water resources exploitation and utilization.

Large scale sand saltation over hard surface: a controlled experiment in still air
LIU Benli, WANG Zhaoyun, NIU Baicheng, QU Jianjun
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 599-611.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0104-3
Abstract ( 120 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (1288KB) ( 344 )  

Saltation is the major particle movement type in wind erosion process. Saltating sand grains can rebound up to tens of times larger in length and height over hard surface (such as gravel surface) than over loose sand surface. Gravels usually have different faces, causing distinct response of the impacting grains, but the effects of the grain and gravel-surface contact angle on grain rebound are not yet well quantified. We performed full-range controlled experiments of grain saltation using different contact angles, grain sizes and impact speeds in still air, to show that contact angle increases the height of representative saltation path but decreases particle travel length. The results were compared with outputs from the COMprehensive numerical model of SALTation (COMSALT). Large saltation height of 4.8 m and length of 9.0 m were recorded. The maximum and representative saltation height over the gravel surface were found to be about 4.9 times and 12.8 times those over the loose sandy surface, respectively. The maximum saltation length may be reduced by 58% and the representative saltation height may be increased by 77% as contact angle increases from 20° to 40°. We further showed that the collision inertia contributes 60% of the saltation length, and wind contributes to the other 40%. These quantitative findings have important implications for modeling saltation trajectory over gravel surface.

Assessment of organic compost and biochar in promoting phytoremediation of crude-oil contaminated soil using Calendula officinalis in the Loess Plateau, China
WANG Jincheng, JING Mingbo, ZHANG Wei, ZHANG Gaosen, ZHANG Binglin, LIU Guangxiu, CHEN Tuo, ZHAO Zhiguang
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 612-628.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0011-7
Abstract ( 94 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (955KB) ( 630 )  

The Loess Plateau, located in Gansu Province, is an important energy base in China because most of the oil and gas resources are distributed in Gansu Province. In the last 40 a, ecological environment in this region has been extremely destroyed due to the over-exploitation of crude-oil resources. Remediation of crude-oil contaminated soil in this area remains to be a challenging task. In this study, in order to elucidate the effects of organic compost and biochar on phytoremediation of crude-oil contaminated soil (20 g/kg) by Calendula officinalis, we designed five treatments, i.e., natural attenuation (CK), planted C. officinalis only (P), planted C. officinalis with biochar amendment (PB), planted C. officinalis with organic compost amendment (PC), and planted C. officinalis with co-amendment of biochar and organic compost (PBC). After 152 d of cultivation, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) removal rates of CK, P, PB, PC and PBC were 6.36%, 50.08%, 39.58%, 73.10% and 59.87%, respectively. Shoot and root dry weights of C. officinalis significantly increased by 172.31% and 80.96% under PC and 311.61% and 145.43% under PBC, respectively as compared with P (P<0.05). Total chlorophyll contents in leaves ofC. officinalis under P, PC and PBC significantly increased by 77.36%, 125.50% and 79.80%, respectively (P<0.05) as compared with PB. Physical-chemical characteristics and enzymatic activity of soil in different treatments were also assessed. The highest total N, total P, available N, available P and SOM (soil organic matter) occurred in PC, followed by PBC (P<0.05).C. officinalis rhizospheric soil dehydrogenase (DHA) and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activities in PB were lower than those of other treatments (P<0.05). The values of ACE (abundance-based coverage estimators) and Chao 1 indices for rhizospheric bacteria were the highest under PC followed by PBC, P, PB and CK (P<0.05). However, the Shannon index for bacteria was the highest under PC and PBC, followed by P, PB and CK (P<0.05). In terms of soil microbial community composition,Proteiniphilum, Immundisolibacteraceae and Solimonadaceae were relatively more abundant under PC and PBC. Relative abundances of Pseudallescheria, Ochroconis, Fusarium, Sarocladium, Podospora, Apodus, Pyrenochaetopsis and Schizothecium under PC and PBC were higher, while relative abundances of Gliomastix, Aspergillusand Alternaria were lower under PC and PBC. As per the nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis, application of organic compost significantly promoted soil N and P contents, shoot length, root vitality, chlorophyll ratio, total chlorophyll, abundance and diversity of rhizospheric soil microbial community in C. officinalis. A high pH value and lower soil N and P contents induced by biochar, altered C. officinalis rhizospheric soil microbial community composition, which might have restrained its phytoremediation efficiency. The results suggest that organic compost-assistedC. officinalis phytoremediation for crude-oil contaminated soil was highly effective in the Loess Plateau, China.

An arthropod community beyond the dry limit of plant life
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 629-638.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0009-1
Abstract ( 118 )   HTML ( 12 )     PDF (1378KB) ( 339 )  

Water availability, which enables plant growth and animal activity, regulates dryland ecosystem function. In hyper-arid ecosystems, rain cannot support vascular plant growth. Therefore, hyper-arid vegetation is restricted to the lower topography, where runoff accumulates. Typically, food resources originating from areas of dense vegetation are dispersed across the desert floor, enabling animal life in areas lacking vascular plant growth. However, certain regions, such as the hyper-arid upper topography, may be devoid of plant-derived food resources. The present study examined arthropod activity in the upper topography of a hyper-arid desert, in comparison with arthropod activity in the lower topography. Pitfall traps were utilized to compare arthropod activity along unvegetated ridges with activity in parallel, vegetated riverbeds. Surprisingly, the study revealed dense arthropod communities in the barren upper topography. Arthropods collected in the upper topography represented 26% of total arthropod abundance. In addition, the overlap between arthropod identity in the ridges and wadis (i.e., riverbeds) was low, and certain arthropods were strongly affiliated with the ridges. The upper topographic communities included high numbers of silverfish (Zygentoma: Lepismatidae), malachite beetles (Psiloderes), and predatory mites (Acari: Anystidae), and these arthropods were present at various life stages. It remains unclear how arthropod communities can persist in the unvegetated upper topography of the hyper-arid study area. These results raise the possibility that other food sources, independent from vascular plants, may play a significant role in the life history of hyper-arid arthropods.

A study on historical location and evolution of Lop Nor in China with maps and DEM
ZHANG Tingting, SHAO Yun, GENG Yuyang, GONG Huaze, YANG Lan
Journal of Arid Land. 2021, 13 (6): 639-652.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0099-9
Abstract ( 325 )   HTML ( 16 )     PDF (2943KB) ( 471 )  

Lop Sea, located at the east end of the Tarim Basin, Northwest China, dried up permanently, which is the terminal lake of the Tarim River. Lop Sea was considered as the lake basin of Lop Nor since Quaternary. However, the possibility that Lop Nor was away from the Lop Sea in historical time is crucial to be discussed to interpret the proxy records in sediment profiles. To obtain a general view of the evolution of Lop Nor and Lop Sea in a historical period, several approaches were adopted in this paper. First, the Qianlong Thirteen-Row Atlas, an ancient imperial atlas of the Qing Dynasty, which was completed around 1760, indicated that the Tarim River formed a relatively large lake at its modern upstream region. Second, a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with a 10-m spatial resolution and a relative precision of 0.42 m was derived from TanDEM-X/TerraSAR-X satellite image pairs using the interferometry method, which was verified using ICESat-GLAS laser footprints and a local DEM acquired by a drone. Finally, based on the spatial analysis of historical documents, expedition reports, sediment profiles and archaeological evidence, it can be deduced that the lacustrine deposition was discontinued in the Lop Sea. Six episodes in the evolutionary history of the drainage system in eastern Tarim Basin were summarized. The proved depositional condition variations could be used for future interpretation of proxy records in sediment. The high-accurate DEM provided a reference for the location of further fieldwork in the Lop Sea. The method proposed in this paper may be efficient for the research of inland lakes or rivers in global arid regions.