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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2016-654
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
02 Jan 2017
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Spatio-temporal patterns of the effects of precipitation variability and land use/cover changes on long-term changes in sediment yield in the Loess Plateau, China
Guangyao Gao1,2, Bojie Fu1,2, and Murugesu Sivapalan3,4 1State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
2Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing 100875, China
3Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois, USA
4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA
Abstract. Within China's Loess Plateau there have been concerted revegetation efforts and engineering measures over the last 50 years aimed at reducing soil erosion and land degradation. As a result, annual streamflow, sediment yield and sediment concentration have all decreased considerably. Human induced land use/cover change (LUCC) was the dominant factor, contributing over 70 % of the sediment load reduction, with reductions of annual precipitation contributing the remaining 30 %. In this study, we use data on 50-year time series (1961–2011), showing decreasing trends in the annual sediment loads of fifteen catchments, to generate spatio-temporal patterns in the effects of LUCC and precipitation variability on sediment yield. The space-time variability of sediment yield was expressed as a product of two factors representing: (i) effect of precipitation (spatially variable) and (ii) fraction of treated land surface area (temporally variable). Under minimal LUCC, annual sediment yield varied linearly with precipitation, with the precipitation-sediment load relationship showing coherent spatial patterns amongst the catchments. On the other hand, the effect of LUCC is expressed in terms of a sediment coefficient, i.e., ratio of annual sediment yield to annual precipitation, which is equivalent to the slope of the sediment yield-precipitation relationship. Sediment coefficients showed a steady decrease over the study period, following a linear decreasing function of the fraction of treated land surface area. In this way, the study has brought out the separate roles of precipitation variability and LUCC in controlling spatio-temporal patterns of sediment yield at catchment scale.

Citation: Gao, G., Fu, B., and Sivapalan, M.: Spatio-temporal patterns of the effects of precipitation variability and land use/cover changes on long-term changes in sediment yield in the Loess Plateau, China, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2016-654, in review, 2017.
Guangyao Gao et al.
Guangyao Gao et al.
Guangyao Gao et al.

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Short summary
This study extracted spatio-temporal patterns of sediment yield across the Loess Plateau during 1961–2011 and attributing these patterns to the broad hydro-climatic and landscape controls. The space-time variability of sediment yield was expressed as a product of two factors representing effect of precipitation (spatially variable) and fraction of treated land surface area (temporally variable), and the contributions of LUCC and precipitation variability were separated and quantified.
This study extracted spatio-temporal patterns of sediment yield across the Loess Plateau during...
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