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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 1 | Copyright

Special issue: Advances in statistical hydrology

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1-10, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-15-1-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 03 Jan 2011

Research article | 03 Jan 2011

Changes in streamflow and sediment discharge and the response to human activities in the middle reaches of the Yellow River

P. Gao1,2, X.-M. Mu1,2, F. Wang1,2, and R. Li1,2 P. Gao et al.
  • 1Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, 26 Xinong Road, Yangling, 712100, Shaanxi Province, China
  • 2Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS and Ministry of Water Resources, 26 Xinong Road, Yangling, 712100, Shaanxi Province, China

Abstract. The changes in streamflow and sediment discharge in the middle reaches of the Yellow River are a focus. In this paper, based on the precipitation, streamflow and sediment discharge series data (1950–2008), the streamflow and sediment discharge variation and its impact on precipitation/response to human activities have been analysis. The results show that significant decreasing trends in annual streamflow and sediment discharge have existed since the late 1950s in the middle reaches of the Yellow River (P = 0.01). Change-point analyses further revealed that transition years existed and that abrupt decline in streamflow and sediment discharge began in 1985 and 1981, respectively, in the middle reaches of the Yellow River (P = 0.05). Adoption of conservation measures in the 1980s and 1990s corroborates the identified transition years. Double-mass curves of precipitation vs. streamflow (sediment) for the periods before and after the transition year show remarkable decreases in proportionality of streamflow (sediment) generation. Compared with the period before the transition year, cumulative streamflow and cumulative sediment discharge reduced respectively by 17.8% and 28% during 1985–2008, which was caused by human intervention, in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. It is, therefore, concluded that human activities occupied a dominant position and played a major role in the streamflow and sediment discharge reduction in the middle reaches of the Yellow River.

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