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Characteristics and causes of changes in annual runoff of the Wuding River in 1956–2009

Zhou, Yuanyuan, Shi, Changxing, Du, Jun, Fan, Xiaoli
Environmental earth sciences 2013 v.69 no.1 pp. 225-234
climate change, climatic factors, drought, rivers, runoff, soil conservation, supply balance, sustainable development, time series analysis, water conservation, water utilization, China, Yellow River
The Yellow River is the second largest river in China. Its runoff experienced rapid changes in the past decades. The trend and driving forces of change of the river’s runoff has been a hot topic in some academic fields in China in recent years, due to its importance in solving the contradiction between supply and demand of water resources, reasonable exploitation and utilization of water resources and its significance in promoting the social, economic and ecologically sustainable development. The Wuding River is one of the large tributaries in the Middle Yellow River and soil and water conservation measures have been implemented in the tributary much earlier. It can be a good example for investigating the trend and causes of changes of runoff of the Yellow River. In this paper, the variation trend and abrupt change are determined in the time series of annual runoff of the Wuding River recorded at a hydrological station near its outlet during the period from 1956 to 2009 using several time series analysis methods. Secondly, the influences of climate change and human activities are estimated through calculating the amount of runoff reduction due to climate change in different periods. Results show that the annual runoff was continually decreasing, the drought trend was aggravating, and abrupt change in runoff series appeared in 1971 and 1997 as a result of large scale water and soil conservation measure after 1971 and ecosystem restoration program since 1997. It is also found that human activities were the main influence factor for runoff reduction during the period from 1972 to 2009. The contributions from climate change increased from about 23 to 30 %, and those from human activities decreased from 77 to 70 % from the period of 1972–1996 to the period of 1997–2009. Finally, a formula is built to reveal the relation of runoff with both climate factors and each main kind of human activities.