Physical Geography

Response of runoff to climate change and its future tendency in the source region of Yellow River

  • 1. Qinghai Climate Centre, Xining 810001, China;
    2. Qinghai Key Laboratory of Disaster Prevention and Reduction, Xining 810001, China
Li Lin (1971-), Professor, specialized in climate change and its impact on water resources and environment. E-mail:

Received date: 2011-11-15

  Revised date: 2011-12-29

  Online published: 2012-05-04

Supported by

Climate Change Science Foundation, No.CCSF2010-05; No.CCSF2011-01


This study examines the hydrological and meteorological data of the source region of the Yellow River from 1956 to 2010 and future climate scenarios from regional climate model (PRECIS) during 2010-2020. Through analyzing the flow variations and revealing the climate causes, it predicts the variation trend for future flows. It is found that the annual mean flow showed a decreasing trend in recent 50 years in the source region of the Yellow River with quasi-periods of 5a, 8a, 15a, 22a and 42a; the weakened South China Sea summer monsoon induced precipitation decrease, as well as evaporation increase and frozen soil degeneration in the scenario of global warming are the climate factors, which have caused flow decrease. Based on the regional climate model PRECIS prediction, the flows in the source region of the Yellow River are likely to decrease generally in the next 20 years.

Cite this article

LI Lin, SHEN Hongyan, DAI Sheng, XIAO Jianshe, SHI Xinghe . Response of runoff to climate change and its future tendency in the source region of Yellow River[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2012 , 22(3) : 431 -440 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-012-0937-y


Chang Guogang, Li Lin, Zhu Xide et al., 2007. Influencing factors of water resources in the source region of the Yellow River. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 17(2): 131-140.
He Min, 1997. Summer monsoon and Yangtze River Basin precipitation (Abstract), Preprint of Abstracts of Papersfor the First WNO International Workshop on Monsoon Studies, WNO/TD-No.786, 2: 67-67B.
Lan Yongchao, Ding Yongjian, Shen Yongping et al., 2005. Review on impact of climate change on water resourcessystem in the upper reaches of Yellow River. Advances in Climate Change Research, 1(3): 122-125.(in Chinese)
Lan Yongchao, Ding Yongjian, Zhu Yongtong et al., 2004. Possible change of runoff over the upper Yellow River Basin under global-warming scenarios. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 26(6): 668-673. (in Chinese)
Lan Yongchao, Lin Shu, Li Zhouying et al., 2006. Study on variations of water cycle factors in upper Yellow River Basin during recent 50 years. Journal of Desert Research, 26(6): 849-854. (in Chinese)
Li Chunhui, Zheng Xiaokang, Yang Zhifeng et al., 2009. Trends of annual natural runoff in the Yellow River Basin. Journal of Beijing Normal University (Natural Science), 45(1): 80-85. (in Chinese)
Li Lin, Li Fengxia, Guo Anhong et al., 2006. Study on the climate change trend and its catastrophe over “Sanjiangyuan”region in recent 43 years. Journal of Natural Resources, 21(1): 79-85. (in Chinese)
Li Lin, Wang Qingchun, Zhang Guosheng et al., 2004a. The influence of climate change on surface water in theupper Yellow River. Acta Geographica Sinica, 59(5): 716-722. (in Chinese)
Li Lin, Wang Zhengyu, Qin Ningsheng, 2004b. Analysis of relationship between flow-off amount and its impactingfactor over the upper reach of Yangtze River. Journal of Natural Resources, 19(6): 694-700. (in Chinese)
Li Lin, Zhu Xide, Wang Qingchun et al., 2005. Study on the some facts of tjale degeneration on Qinghai plateau. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 27(3): 320-328. (in Chinese)
Nak Icenovic N, Alcamo J, Davis G et al., 2000. Special report on emissions scenarios. A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 599.
Pei Buxiang, 1989. Calculation and Measurement of Evaporation and Evapotranspiration. Beijing: China Meteorological Press, 87-91. (in Chinese)
Shi Yafeng, 1995. The Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources over Northwest China. Jinan: Shandong Science Press, 127-141. (in Chinese)
Sun Weiguo, Cheng Bingyan, Li Rong, 2010. Seasonal variations of runoff and its wavelet correlations with regionalclimate in source region of the Yellow River. Journal of Desert Research, 30(3): 712-721. (in Chinese)
Tang Qicheng, Qu Lingguang, 1992. Hydrology and Water Resources Use in Arid Areas of China. Beijing: Science Press, 44-80. (in Chinese)
Wang Suping, Song Lianchun, Han Yongxiang et al., 2006. Impacts of climate change on ecological environmentin Maqu grassland. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 28(4): 556-561. (in Chinese)
Zhang Senqi, Wang Yonggui, Zhao Yongzheng et al., 2004. The multi-year tjale degeneration and its environmentreflection at the source of Yellow River. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 26(1): 1-6. (in Chinese)
Zhao Fangfang, Xu Zongxue, 2009. Hydrological response to climate change in headwater catchment of the Yellow River Basin. Resources Science, 31(5): 722-730. (in Chinese)