Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 594–600 | Cite as

River discharge changes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

  • Cao Jianting Email author
  • Qin Dahe 
  • Kang Ersi 
  • Li Yuanyuan 


Annual mean discharge data of the five large rivers in the exorheic region of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from 1956 to 2000 are analyzed for trends with the Mann-Kendall nonparametric trend test. The results reveal that though in general no increasing trends exist in the total river discharges, significant regional differences of river discharge exist, reflecting the decreasing trends of discharge in the Yellow River and the Tongtian River (upper Changjiang River), an increasing trend in Yalong River, and inverted change in the Lancang River and Yarlung Zangbo River. Based on analyses of the seasonal discharge, it is found that climatic change had a significant effect on the seasonal variation of river discharge in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In spring (from March to May) the discharge increased significantly, especially in the source area of the Yellow River. Together with the analyses on data of the mean temperature in the Northern Hemisphere and climatic data within the river basins, the relationship between discharges and mean temperature of the Northern Hemisphere is explored, which indicates that there is no increase in the stream discharge in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with global warming. It is probably the increasing evaporation, caused by rising temperature that offsets the hydrological effect of increasing precipitation.


global warming variation of river discharge Mann-Kendall test hydrological cycle Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cao Jianting 
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Qin Dahe 
    • 3
  • Kang Ersi 
    • 4
  • Li Yuanyuan 
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Climatic StudiesChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.General Institute for Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and DesignMinistry of Water ResourcesBeijingChina
  3. 3.China Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  4. 4.Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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