Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 129, Issue 1–2, pp 645–654 | Cite as

Human activity and climate variability impacts on sediment discharge and runoff in the Yellow River of China

  • Yi He
  • Fei WangEmail author
  • Xingmin Mu
  • Lanqin Guo
  • Peng Gao
  • Guangju Zhao
Original Paper


We analyze the variability of sediment discharge and runoff in the Hekou–Longmen segment in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, China. Our analysis is based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), sediment discharge, runoff, and monthly meteorological data (1961–2010). The climate conditions are controlled via monthly regional average precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (ET0) that are calculated with the Penman–Monteith method. Data regarding water and soil conservation infrastructure and their effects were investigated as causal factors of runoff and sediment discharge changes. The results indicated the following conclusions: (1) The sediment concentration, sediment discharge, and annual runoff, varied considerably during the study period and all of these factors exhibited larger coefficients of variation than ET0 and precipitation. (2) Sediment discharge, annual runoff, and sediment concentration significantly declined over the study period in a linear fashion. This was accompanied by an increase in ET0 and decline in precipitation that were not significant. (3) Within paired years with similar precipitation and potential evapotranspiration conditions (SPEC), all pairs showed a decline in runoff, sediment discharge, and sediment concentration. (4) Human impacts in this region were markedly high as indicated by NDVI, and soil and water measurements, and especially the soil and water conservation infrastructure resulting in an approximately 312 Mt year−1 of sediment deposition during 1960–1999.


Normalize Difference Vegetation Index Sediment Concentration Potential Evapotranspiration Annual Runoff Middle Reach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation of China [41171420 and 41271295], the External Cooperation Program of BIC, Chinese Academy of Sciences [16146KYSB20150001], the European Commission Programme Horizon 2020 project [635750], the West Light Foundation of The Chinese Academy of Sciences [2013-165-04], and the National Key Basic Research Special Foundation of China [2014FY210100].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi He
    • 1
  • Fei Wang
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Xingmin Mu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lanqin Guo
    • 4
  • Peng Gao
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guangju Zhao
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Water Resources and Architectural EngineeringNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationChinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of water ResourcesYanglingChina
  4. 4.Shaanxi Sixth Surveying Mapping and Geoinformation InstituteXi’anChina

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