National large-scale soil and water conservation controls on the Gangjiang River basin have been documented, but the effect of governance on regional watershed hydrology and how the main driving factors act have not been systematically studied yet. To do this, this study evaluated changing trends and detected transition years for both streamflow and sediment discharge using long-term historical records at seven hydrological stations in the Ganjiang River basin over the past 50 years. The double mass curve (DMC) method was used to quantify the effects of both climate change and human activities on hydrological regime shifts. The results showed that the distributions of precipitation, streamflow, and sediment discharge within a year are extremely uneven and mainly concentrated in the flood season of Jiangxi Province. None of the stations showed significant trends over time for either annual precipitation or streamflow, while the annual sediment discharge at most stations decreased significantly over time. The estimation of sediment discharge via DMC indicated that after the transition years, there were rapid reductions in sediment discharge at all hydrological stations, and the average decline degree of midstream and downstream were much larger than that of upstream. Human activities, especially the increase of vegetation cover and construction of large and medium-sized reservoirs, provided a significantly greater contribution to the reduction of sediment discharge than did precipitation changes. As a case study of river evolution under global change environment, this study could provide scientific basis for the control of soil erosion and the management of water resources in Ganjiang River, as well as for the related research of Poyang Lake and the Yangtze River basin of China.
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