The decrease of runoff in the Luanhe river basin, which caused water crisis in Tianjin for several times, was investigated using discharge data covering the period 1956–2002. The data from the differential integral curves of the annual runoff indicate that the decreasing point began in 1979 in the six sub-basins. The decrease of runoff in the Luanhe river basin resulted from the combination of climate effects and human activities, in which the latter plays an important role. This can be illustrated by noting that after 1979 the runoff generated by similar precipitation decreased under the condition that the total precipitation did not decrease in the entire basin. As a result, the annual runoff of the Luanhe river basin after 1979 decreased by about 6.46 × 108 m3 each year. To analyze the runoff characteristics, it is inadequate to seek the runoff trends only and the identification of cyclical component of the runoff as accurate as possible is necessary. From the natural annual runoff discharge time series, we can see the annual runoff fluctuates around the long-term average. Analyzed by VRL (Variable Record Length) method, the main periods of 3, 5–6, 7, 9, 16–20 and 37–39 years were found. The last decade causing water crisis was the driest period in the history, and this condition will last several years from trend analysis and power spectrum analysis. So finding new water sources is urgent to solve water crisis in Tianjin city, and the South-North Water Transfer is a feasible option.
runoff trend Luanhe river basin difference integral curves spectral analysis Variable Record Length