Over the last 40 years, declining spring water flow rates have become a typical feature of karst springs in Northern China. Wavelet analysis, the Mann-Kendall trend test and the mutation test were used to analyze dynamic monitoring data of groundwater levels and atmospheric precipitation in the Jinan karst spring area, from 1956 to 2013, to study hydrological responses to atmospheric precipitation over one-year periods. Results from this analysis show that: (1) Atmospheric precipitation and the spring water level displayed multi-scale change characteristics, having two very similar cycles of change of 16 and 12 years. This finding shows that atmospheric precipitation generates a direct impact on the level of spring water. (2) From 1956 to 2013, the groundwater level in the Jinan spring area had a significant downward trend (0.65 m/10a). Precipitation recorded an increasing trend (12.65 mm/10a), however this was not significant. The weight of the influencing factors of the spring dynamic therefore changed due to the influence of human factors. (3) A mutation of atmospheric precipitation occurred in 1999, after which annual precipitation increased. Results for the mutation of the groundwater level showed an initial change in 1967. After this change the water level continued to decrease before rapidly increasing after 2004. The future trend of the spring water level should be maintained with consistent precipitation (having an upward trend), indicating that atmospheric precipitation is not the only factor affecting the dynamics of the spring. (4) Different periods were identified on the multiple regression model. The main influencing factors on groundwater level over the past 58 years were identified as a transition from precipitation to artificial mining. These results also validate the suitability and reliability of using wavelet analysis and the Mann-Kendall test method to study groundwater dynamics; these results provide a reference for the future protection of the Jinan City spring.
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