Simulation of hydrological processes in the Zhalong wetland within a river basin, Northeast China
Zhalong National Nature Preserve is a large wetland reserve on the Songnen Plain in Northeast China. Wetlands in the preserve play a key role in maintaining regional ecosystem function and integrity. Global climate change and intensified anthropogenic activities in the region have raised great concerns over the change of natural flow regime, wetland degradation and loss. In this study, two key hydrologic components in the preserve, water surface area and water volume, as well as their variations during the period 1985–2006, were investigated with a spatially-distributed hydrologic modeling system (SWAT). A wetland module was incorporated into the SWAT model to represent hydrological linkages between the wetland and adjacent upland areas. The modified modeling system was calibrated with streamflow measurements from 1987 to 1989 and was validated for the period 2005–2006. The calibration achieved a Nash efficiency coefficient ( Ens) of 0.86, and the validation yielded an Ens of 0.66. In the past 20 yr, water surface area in the Zhalong wetland fluctuated from approximately 200 km 2 to 1145 km 2 with a rapid decreasing trend through the early 2000s. Consequently, water volume decreased largely in the preserve, especially in the dry seasons. The situation changed following the implementation of a river diversion in 2001. Overall, the modeling yielded plausible estimates of hydrologic changes in this large wetland reserve, building a foundation for assessing ecological water requirements and developing strategies and plans for future water resources management within the river basin.