EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Seasonal variation in water and sediment fluxes of the Yangtze River under precipitation change and human interference

Yao Yue1, Yuanfang Chai2, Shitian Xu1, and Xiaofeng Zhang1
Yao Yue et al.
  • 1Wuhan University, School of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering, Department of River Engineering, China (
  • 2Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Earth Sciences (

Seasonal change of water and sediment fluxes is an important issue in flood/drought control and ecosystem protection. Based on trend analysis in dry and flood seasons during 1960–2014 at six major gauging stations on the Yangtze River, the largest river in China, significant homogenization of intra-year water discharge was found, while sharp decrease of sediment load in both seasons was tested. By reconstructing water and sediment series without the human interference, contributions of precipitation change, large dam constructions on the mainstream, and other human activities in each of the sub-basins of the Yangtze River were separated and quantified. It shows that precipitation change attributed for 9.5–23.6% to discharge homogenization in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and increased sediment yield by 1.9–25.5% in both dry and flood seasons. Being the largest hydraulic project in the world, the Three Gorges Dam only explains 17.5–27.2% of the downstream homogenization in water flux, and 3.2–23.9% of sediment reduction in both seasons. Relatively small but massive human interference in the sub-basins was recognized as the primary factor, contributing over 60% to discharge homogenization and over 70% to seasonal sediment reduction, most notably in the Hanjiang sub-basin for water flux and in the Jianglingjiang sub-basin for sediment load.

How to cite: Yue, Y., Chai, Y., Xu, S., and Zhang, X.: Seasonal variation in water and sediment fluxes of the Yangtze River under precipitation change and human interference, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1880,, 2021.