A preliminary estimate of human and natural contributions to the changes in water discharge and sediment load in the Yellow River

Chiyuan Miao, Jinren Ni, Alistair G. L. Borthwick, Lin Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Water discharge and sediment load have changed continuously during the last half century in the Yellow River basin, China. In the present paper, data from 7 river gauging stations and 175 meteorological stations are analyzed in order to estimate quantitatively the contributions of human activities and climate change to hydrological response. Coefficients of water discharge (C(w)) and sediment load (C(s)) are calculated for the baseline period of 1950s-1960s according to the correlations between the respective hydrological series and regional precipitation. Consequently, the natural water discharge and natural sediment load time series are reconstructed from 1960s-2008. Inter-annual impacts are then separated from the impacts of human activities and climate change on the hydrological response of different regions of the Yellow River basin. It is found that human activities have the greatest influence on changes to the hydrological series of water discharge and sediment load, no matter whether the effect is negative or positive. Moreover, the impact of human activities is considerably greater on water discharge than sediment load. During 1970-2008. climate change and human activities respectively contribute 17% and 83% to the reduction in water discharge, and 14% and 86% to the reduction in sediment yield in the Upper reaches of Yellow River basin; The corresponding relative contributions in the Middle reaches are 71% and 29% to reductions in water discharge. and 48% and 52% to reductions in sediment load. Moreover, it is observed that the impacts of human activities on the whole basin are enhanced with time. In the 2000s. the impact of human activities exceeds that of climate change in the 2000s, with human activities directly responsible for 55% and 54% of the reductions in water discharge and sediment load in the whole basin. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-205
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal and planetary change
Volume76
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Keywords

  • Yellow River
  • water discharge
  • sediment load
  • climate change
  • human activity
  • PAST 50 YEARS
  • CLIMATE-CHANGE
  • LOESS PLATEAU
  • LAND-USE
  • CHINA
  • BASIN
  • IMPACTS
  • HUANGHE
  • RUNOFF
  • TRENDS

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