Emergent stationarity in Yellow River sediment transport and the underlying shift of dominance: From streamflow to vegetation

Sheng Ye, Qihua Ran, Xudong Fu, Chunhong Hu, Guangqian Wang, Gary Parker, Xiuxiu Chen, Siwei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Soil erosion and sediment transport play important roles in terrestrial landscape evolution and biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and contaminants. Although discharge is considered to be a controlling factor in sediment transport, its correlation with sediment concentration varies across the Yellow River basin (YRB) and is not fully understood. This paper provides analysis from gauges across the YRB covering a range of climates, topographic characteristics, and degrees of human intervention. Our results show that discharge control on sediment transport is dampened at gauges with large mean annual discharge, where sediment concentration becomes more and more stable. This emergent stationarity can be attributed to vegetation resistance. Our analysis shows that sediment concentration follows a bell shape with vegetation index (normalized difference vegetation index, NDVI) at an annual scale despite heterogeneity in climate and landscape. We obtain the counterintuitive result that, as mean annual discharge increases, the dominant control on sediment transport shifts from streamflow erosion to vegetation retardation in the YRB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-556
Number of pages8
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 30 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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