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Land conversion and changing climate are expected to significantly alter tropical forest hydrology. We used a land surface model integrated with a river routing scheme to analyze the hydrological alterations expected in the Tapajós River basin, a large portion of the Brazilian Amazon, caused by two environmental drivers: climate and land use. The model was forced with two future climate scenarios (years 2026–2045) from the Earth System Model HadGem2-ES with moderate (+4.5 W/m2 radiative forcing value in the year 2100 with respect to preindustrial levels) and severe (+8.5 W/m2) representative atmospheric carbon dioxide pathways (Representative Concentration Pathways). We tested the sensitivity of our results to the uncertainty in future climate projections by running simulations with IPSL-CM5 (wettest scenarios) and GISS-E2 (driest scenarios). Human land use effects on vegetation were evaluated using a limited and an extreme deforestation scenario. Our analysis indicates that climate change is predicted to reduce river flows across seasons (up to 20%) and bring a considerable shift in flow seasonality toward a later onset (nearly 1.5 months) and increase in interannual variability. While land use change partially counteracts the climate-driven diminishing trend in river flows, it is expected to contribute to a further increase in interannual and intraannual variability. From a water management perspective, the overall reduction of river flows and their increased variability, combined with the shift and the shortening of the wet season, could potentially affect the productivity of the large hydropower systems planned for the region and the growing demand for agricultural and transport expansion.

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Earth's Future, v. 7, issue 8, p. 993-1017

eft2585-sup-0001-2019ef001198-ts01.docx (53 kB)
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