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SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences, Volume 62 , Issue 11 : 1885-1895(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11431-019-9531-0

Structural characteristics of river networks and their relations to basin factors in the Yangtze and Yellow River basins

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  • ReceivedMar 23, 2019
  • AcceptedMay 27, 2019
  • PublishedOct 16, 2019

Abstract

The integration of rivers and basins highly implies the possible existence of certain relationships between hierarchical characteristics of river networks and primary basin factors. Here we investigated river networks in two large basins, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River, characterized with basic factors such as annual precipitation, slope, soil erodibility and vegetation. Hierarchical analysis demonstrated a fair self-similarity of river networks at the stream-order 1–5 in both rivers, described by the structural parameters including bifurcation ratio, side-branching ratio, drainage density, and length of headwater-river. Besides precipitation, basin slope was essential in shaping river networks in both basins, showing a significant positive correlation (R2=0.39–0.85) to bifurcation ratio, side-branching ratio, and drainage density. Given the same basin slope (5°–15°), thehigher soil erodibility and sparse vegetation would promote greater side-branching ratio and drainage density in the Yellow River, which were estimated 11.97 % and 63.70 % larger, respectively than those in the Yangtze River. This study highlights the importance to formulate basin-specific strategies for water and soil conservation in terms of different structures of river networks.


Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,No.,51721006)


Acknowledgment

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51721006).


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  • Figure 1

    Study area. (a) Distribution of 40 representative sub-basins and (b) river networks in the Yangtze; (c) distribution of 20 representative sub-basins and (d) river networks in the Yellow. In the Yangtze River basin, areas I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII correspond to Jinshajiang, Yalongjiang, Minjiang, Jialingjiang, Wujiang, Xiangjiang, Hanjiang, and Ganjiang, respectively; in the Yellow River basin, areas I, II, III, IV correspond to Taohe, Huangshui, Fenhe, and Weihe, respectively.

  • Figure 2

    Structural parameters with different stream-orders for river networks in the Yangtze (blue box) and the Yellow River basins (orange box). (a) Bifurcation ratio (RB); (b) side-branching ratio (RSB); (c) drainage density (Dd); (d) mean length of rivers (L).

  • Figure 3

    Relationship between structural parameters and mean annul precipitation (MAP) for representative sub-basins of the Yangtze (blue dot) and the Yellow River basins (orange dot). (a) Bifurcation ratio (RB); (b) side-branching ratio (RSB); (c) drainage density (Dd); (d) mean length of the first-order rivers (L1).

  • Figure 4

    Difference in (a) RB, (b) RSB, (c) Dd and (d) L1, due to different landform types for sub-basins of the Yangtze and the Yellow River basin. The landform type I, II, III, IV, and V corresponding to high-relief mountain land, medium to low-relief mountain land, hilly, terrace, and plain, respectively.

  • Figure 5

    Relationship between structural parameters and average basin slope precipitation (S) for representative sub-basins of the Yangtze (blue dot) and the Yellow River basins (orange dot). (a) Bifurcation ratio (RB); (b) side-branching ratio (RSB); (c) drainage density (Dd); (d) mean length of the first-order rivers (L1).

  • Figure 6

    Examples of river networks with different basin slopes. (a) Kushuihe, a sub-basin in the upper Yellow region; (b) Xianshuihe, a sub-basin in the upper Yangtze region.

  • Figure 7

    Difference in (a) RB, (b) RSB, (c) Dd, and (d) L1 due to different lithological types for sub-basins of the Yangtze and the Yellow River basin. The lithological type I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, and VIII corresponding to sedimentary rocks, plutonic rocks, metamorphic rocks, fossil plant organic materials, alluvial deposits, unconsolidated sediment, subordinate plutonics mentioned, and loess, respectively.

  • Figure 8

    Relationship between structural parameters and soil erodibility (K) for representative sub-basins of the Yangtze (blue dot) and the Yellow River basins (orange dot). (a) Bifurcation ratio (RB); (b) side-branching ratio (RSB); (c) drainage density (Dd); (d) mean length of the first-order rivers (L1).

  • Figure 9

    Relationship between structural parameters and vegetation cover (VC) for representative sub-basins of the Yangtze (blue dot) and the Yellow River basins (orange dot). (a) Bifurcation ratio (RB); (b) side-branching ratio (RSB); (c) drainage density (Dd); (d) mean length of the first-order rivers (L1).

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