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The Yellow River is one of the largest riverine sediment routing system in the world. Like many other rivers, the sediment load of the Yellow River can not be regarded as constant in its long history due to changes in climate and human activities. This study determined sediment storage on the floodplains of the lower Yellow River in five historical periods after the year 602bcmainly based on data of 93 boreholes, 182 radiocarbon dates in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain and maps of historical changes of the lower Yellow River channel. Furthermore, the mean annual sediment outputs from the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River were calculated in the five periods through investigating the sediment delivery ratio of the lower Yellow River under different conditions of artificial levees. Our findings suggest that the sediment output from the upper and middle Yellow River increased slowly before the year around 1128, but was lower than half of the current value on average. It has been in the past about 1000 years that the sediment output from the upper and middle Yellow River escalated. The Loess Plateau is the principal sediment source of the Yellow River. The comparison of historical changes in sediment load of the lower Yellow River with those in the natural conditions and in human activities on the plateau reveals that the changes in sediment yield from the plateau could be attributed mainly to the variations of population, cultivating area, and climate changes on the plateau.
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Keywords: sediment delivery ratio; sediment storage; sediment yield; soil erosion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Key laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101

Publication date: 01 September 2010

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