The Poyang Lake Basin has been suffering from severe water problems such as floods and droughts. This has led to great adverse impacts on local ecosystems and water resource utilization. It is therefore important to understand stream flow changes and their driving factors. In this paper, the dynamics of stream flow and precipitation in the Poyang Lake Basin between 1961 and 2012 were evaluated with the Mann–Kendall test, Theil–Sen approaches, Pettitt test, and Pearson’s correlation. Stream flow was measured at the outlets of five major tributaries of Poyang Lake, while precipitation was recorded by fourteen meteorological stations located within the Poyang Lake Basin. Results showed that annual stream flow of all tributaries and the precipitation over the study area had insignificant (P
> 0.1) temporal trends and change points, while significant trends and shifts were found in monthly scale. Stream flow concentration indices (SCI) at Waizhou, Meigang, and Wanjiabu stations showed significant (P
< 0.05) decreasing trends with change points emerging in 1984 at Waizhou and 1978 at Wanjiabu, while there was no significant temporal trend and change point detected for the precipitation concentration indices (PCI). Correlation analysis indicated that area-average stream flow was closely related to area-average precipitation, but area-average SCI was insignificantly correlated with area-average PCI after change point (1984). El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) had greater impacts on stream flow than other climate indices, and La Niña events played a more important role in stream flow changes than EI Niño. Human activities, particularly in terms of reservoir constructions, largely altered the intra-annual distribution of stream flow but its effects on the amount of stream flow were relatively low. Results of this study provided a useful reference to regional water resource management and the prevention of flood and drought disasters.
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