Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 73–85 | Cite as

Temporal change of runoff and sediment load and their differential response to human activities: A case study for a well-vegetated mountain watershed of southern China

Article

Abstract

This study examined the temporal trends of runoff and sediment load and their differential response to human activities in the Lishui river, a tributary of the Yangtze river in southern China. The long-term observation data at four gauging stations, generally involving two periods from 1954 to 1985 and from 2007 to 2011, were used. We detected no significant temporal trend for both the annual runoff volume (Q) and the annual suspended Sediment Load (SL) over more than 30 years before 1985. The flow duration curves and the Suspended Sediment Concentration (SSC) also hold constant before 1985. Compared with the period before 1985, SL has decreased by about 80% though Q remains unchanged for the period after 2007. Detailed examination shows that the flow duration curves after 2007 have changed with a significant decrease in the high-flow component, which acts as a major cause for the decreasing SL. In addition, SSC has decreased by several times, which also contributes to the decrease in SL after 2007. Both decreases in high-flow discharges and in SSC can be linked with recent human activities, mainly including vegetation establishment and dam constructions. The constant Q and the decreasing SL are also reported for the main stream of the Yangtze River and other major rivers in southern China, although they are orders of magnitude larger than our study area in drainage area size. The present study highlights the importance of high-flow discharges on SL and suggests that the use of SL is more appropriate to reflect environmental change than Q.

Keywords

Runoff Sediment load Reservoirs Environmental change Afforestation Lishui River 

Nomenclature

Q

annual runoff volume

SL

annual suspended sediment load

q

daily mean water discharge

P

areal annual precipitation

SSC

daily mean suspended sediment concentration

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barnett TP, Pierce DW, Hidalgo HG, et al. (2008) Human-Induced Changes in the Hydrology of the Western United States. Science 319: 1080–1083. DOI: 10.1126/science.1152538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown AE, Zhang L, McMahon TA, Western AW, Vertessy RA (2005) A review of paired catchment studies for determining changes in water yield resulting from alterations in vegetation. Journal of Hydrology 310: 28–61. DOI:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2004.12.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chu ZX, Zhai SK, Lu XX, Liu JP, Xu JX, Xu KH (2009) A quantitative assessment of human impacts on decrease in sediment flux from major Chinese rivers entering the western Pacific Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 36: L19603. DOI: 10.1029/2009GL039513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coe MT, Latrubesse EM, Ferreira ME, Amsler ML (2011) The effects of deforestation and climate variability on the streamflow of the Araguaia River. Brazil Biogeochemistry 105: 119–131. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-011-9582-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dmitrienko A, Chuang-Stein C, D’Agostino R (2007) Pharmaceutical statistics using SAS: a practical guide. SAS Institute Inc, NC, USA. pp 129–132.Google Scholar
  6. Gao P, Mu XM, Wang F, et al. (2011) Changes in streamflow and sediment discharge and the response to human activities in the middle reaches of the Yellow River. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 15: 1–10. DOI: 10.5194/hess-15-1-2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. He YJ, Li XQ, Tian YX, et al. (2009) Dynamic characteristics of runoff and sediment yield during vegetation restoration in Nverzhai small watershed of northwest Hunan Province. Chinese Journal of Ecology 28(9): 1824–1828. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  8. Huang SC, Zhang YP, Jiang F (2010) Remote sensing investigation and monitoring of soil erosion in Zhangjiajie City. Remote Sensing for Land & Resources 86: 130–133. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Li AC (2012) Study on the soil erosion by using GIS in upstream region of Lishui basin, Hunan. M.D. Thesis, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Li JB (1991) Analysis of hydrological characteristics in Lishui river basin. Journal of Natural Science of Hunan Normal University 14(3): 267–272. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Liu C, Sui JY, Wang ZY (2008) Sediment load reduction in Chinese rivers. International Journal of Sediment Research 23: 44–55. DOI: 10.1016/S1001-6279(08)60004-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Liu CM, Zhong JX (1978) The influence of forest cover upon annual runoff in the Loess Plateau of China. Acta Geographica Sinica 33(2): 112–127. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  13. Lu XX, Higgitt DL (1998) Recent Changes of Sediment Yield in the Upper Yangtze, China. Environmental Management 22(5): 697–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ministry of Water Resources of the PRC (2008) Standards for classification and gradation of soil erosion (Sl 190-2007). (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Rustomji P, Zhang XP, Hairsine PB, et al. (2008) River sediment load and concentration responses to changes in hydrology and catchment management in the Loess Plateau region of China. Water Resources Research 44: W00A04. DOI: 10.1029/2007WR006656.Google Scholar
  16. Schmidt A, Montgomery DR, Huntington KW, et al. (2011) The question of communist land degradation: new evidence from local erosion and basin-wide sediment yield in Southwest China and Southeast Tibet. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(3): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sedimentation Commission of Chinese Society of Hydraulic Engineering (1992) Handbook of Sedimentation. Publishing House for Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. Syvitski JPM, Milliman JD (2007) Geology, geography, and humans battle for dominance over the delivery of fluvial sediment to the coastal ocean. Journal of Geology 115(1): 1–19. DOI: 10.1086/509246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Syvitski JPM, Kettner A (2012) Sediment flux and the Anthropocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369: 957–975. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tian YX, Li XQ, Niu YD, et al. (2011) Influence of ecological forest on surface runoff in watersheds of Wulei Mountains. Hunan Forestry Science & Technology 38(5): 18–21. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  21. Walling DE (2006) Human impact on land-ocean sediment transfer by the world’s rivers. Geomorphology 79: 192–216. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.06.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Walling DE (2009) The Impact of Global Change on Erosion and Sediment Transport by Rivers: Current Progress and Future Challenges. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  23. Walling DE, Fang D (2003) Recent trends in the suspended sediment loads of the world’s rivers. Global and Planetary Change 39: 111–126. DOI: 10.1016/S0921-8181(03)00020-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wang LX, Zhang ZQ (2001) Impacts of forest vegetation on watershed runoff in dryland areas. Journal of Natural Resources 16(5): 439–444. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  25. Wang ZY, Li Y, He Y (2007) Sediment budget of the Yangtze River. Water Resources Research 43: W04401. DOI: 10.1029/2006WR005012.Google Scholar
  26. Xu KH., Milliman, JD (2009) Seasonal variations of sediment discharge from the Yangtze River before and after impoundment of the Three Gorges Dam. Geomorphology 104: 276–283. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.09.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Xu, JX (2012) Temporal variation in summer monsoon intensity since 1873 and its influence on runoff in the drainage area between Hekouzhen and Longmen, Yellow River basin, China. Climatic Change 112(2): 283–298. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0225-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yan B, Fang NF, Zhang PC, et al. (2013) Impacts of land use change on watershed streamflow and sediment yield: An assessment using hydrologic modelling and partial least squares regression. Journal of Hydrology 484: 26–37. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.01.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yan, YS (1984) An Introduction to Hydrometry. Water Conservancy and Electric Power Press, Beijing, China. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  30. Yang, SL, Zhao QY, Belkin IM (2002) Temporal variation in the sediment load of the Yangtze river and the influences of human activities. Journal of Hydrology 263: 56–71. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-1694(02)00028-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhang L, Dawes WR, Walker GR (2001) The response of mean annual evapotranspiration to vegetation changes at catchment scale. Water Resources Research 37: 701–708. DOI: 10.1029/2000WR900325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zhang Q, Xu CY, Becker S, et al. (2006) Sediment and runoff changes in the Yangtze River basin during past 50 years. Journal of Hydrology 331: 511–523. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.05.036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang XP, Zhang L, Mcvicar TR, et al. (2008) Modelling the impact of afforestation on average annual streamflow in the Loess Plateau, China. Hydrological Processes 22: 1996–2004. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhao GJ, Mu XM, Su BD, et al. (2012) Analysis of streamflow and sediment flux changes in the Yangtze River basin. Water International 37(5): 537–551. DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2012.681442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zheng HX, Zhang L, Liu CM, et al. (2007) Changes in stream flow regime in headwater catchments of the Yellow River basin since the 1950s. Hydrological Processes 21: 886–893. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhou G, Tian YX, Cheng GY, et al. (2009) Runoff and sediment yield on slope land in initial stages of conversion of cropland to forest in Northwestern Hunan Province. Science of Soil and Water Conservation 7(2): 118–122. (In Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences & Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academic of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations