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Dynamic sediment discharge in the Hekou–Longmen region of Yellow River and soil and water conservation implications

Gao, Peng, Deng, Jingcheng, Chai, Xueke, Mu, Xingmin, Zhao, Guangju, Shao, Hongbo, Sun, Wenyi
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.578 pp. 56-66
basins, climate change, ecological restoration, humans, pollution load, rain, sediment yield, sediments, soil erosion, soil water, water conservation, watersheds, China, Yellow River
The middle reaches of the Yellow River Basin transport the vast majority of sediment (>85% of the basin's total available sediment load), which has had profound effects on the characteristics of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River. Since the late 1950s, soil and water conservation measures have been extensively implemented in the Loess Plateau, China, especially since the 1970s. This has resulted in sediment discharge changing significantly. In this study, data from 22 catchments in the region of the Loess Plateau from Hekou to Longmen in the middle reaches of the Yellow River were analyzed to investigate the responses of the sediment regime to climate change and human activities. The non-parametric Mann–Kendall test and the Pettitt test were used to identify trends and shifts in sediment discharge. All 22 catchments had a significantly decreasing trend (P<0.01) in annual sediment discharge. Change point years were detected between 1971 and 1994, and were concentrated between 1978 and 1984 in 17 catchments. Moreover, erosive rainfall exhibited a tendency to decrease, but this was not a significant trend. Compared to rainfall, human activities, primarily soil and water conservation and environmental rehabilitation campaigns, have played a more prominent role in the changes in sediment regimes. In order to reduce soil erosion and sediment yield, more attention should be paid to proper and rational soil and water conservation and eco-restoration in this region.