Groundwater storage trends in the Loess Plateau of China estimated from streamflow records

Zhaoliang Gao, Lu Zhang, Lei Cheng, Xiaoping Zhang, Timothy Cowan, Wenju Cai, Wilfried Brutsaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The catchments in the Loess Plateau in China have experienced significant land use change since the 1950s with a great number of soil conservation measures such as revegetation being implemented. Such soil conservation measures and climate variability have had considerable impacts on the annual streamflow from these catchments. However, much less is known about changes in groundwater storage as the period of direct groundwater storage measurements is too short to reliably infer groundwater storage trends. For this study, annual values of groundwater storage from 38 catchments in the Loess Plateau were estimated from daily streamflow records based on groundwater flow theory. It was found that over the period of record (viz. 1955 to 2010), statistically significant (p < 0.1) downward trends have been identified in 20 selected catchments with an average reduction of −0.0299 mm per year,mostly located in the northern part of the Loess Plateau. Upward groundwater storage trendswere observed in 10 catchments with an average increase of 0.00467 mm per year; these upward trends occurred in southern parts of the study area. Groundwater storage showed no statistically significant trends in 8 out of the 38 selected catchments. Soil conservation measures implemented in the Loess Plateau such as large-scale revegetation may have contributed to the estimated groundwater storage trends. Changes in sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean, as indicated by shifts in climate variability modes such as El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, appear to have also contributed to the decreasing trends in groundwater storage in this region.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date30 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2015


  • Base flow
  • Groundwater storage
  • Climate change
  • Trends
  • Land use change

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Groundwater storage trends in the Loess Plateau of China estimated from streamflow records'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this