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Water 2014, 6(11), 3320-3338; doi:10.3390/w6113320

Separating the Impacts of Climate Variation and Human Activities on Runoff in the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China

1
Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130102, Jilin, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3
School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 August 2014 / Revised: 13 October 2014 / Accepted: 31 October 2014 / Published: 7 November 2014
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Abstract

Climate variation and human activities are commonly recognized as two major factors affecting basin hydrology. However, quantifying their individual effect on runoff is challenging. In this study, long-term (1960–2009) river discharge and weather data in the Songhua River Basin (SRB, 556,800 km2), Northeast China, were gathered to separate the impacts of climate variation and human activities on runoff in five sub basins of the SRB. Mann-Kendall test, moving t-test and precipitation-runoff double cumulative curve were utilized to identify trends and change points of the hydrometeorlogical variables. Based on the change point, the 50-year study period was divided into two time series: 1960–1974 where minimal human activities took place and 1975–2009 where extensive land use change occurred and river engineering projects were undertaken. Subsequently, individual contributions of climate and human factors were assessed through a hydrologic sensitivity analysis. Our study found a significant decline in runoff of the SRB over the past 50 years. Contribution of climate variation and human activities to the change varied temporally and spatially. For the 1975–2009 period, human activities made a greater contribution (62%–82%) to the total runoff decline of the SRB. However, climate variation played a bigger role in runoff reduction in two sub river basins (63%–65%) between 1975 and 1989, as well as in runoff increase in other two sub river basins (85%–86%) between 1990 and 1999. Spatially, the effect of human activities on runoff decline was relatively stronger in the lower basin areas in the 1960s and 1970s while showing an increasing role in the upper basin areas in the past two decades. View Full-Text
Keywords: river basin runoff; precipitation-runoff relation; hydrologic sensitivity analysis; climate variation; human activities; Nenjiang River; Second Songhua River; Songhua River river basin runoff; precipitation-runoff relation; hydrologic sensitivity analysis; climate variation; human activities; Nenjiang River; Second Songhua River; Songhua River
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Li, F.; Zhang, G.; Xu, Y.J. Separating the Impacts of Climate Variation and Human Activities on Runoff in the Songhua River Basin, Northeast China. Water 2014, 6, 3320-3338.

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