Anatolii Tsyplenkov

and 2 more

Quantifying and understanding catchment sediment yields is crucial both from a scientific and environmental management perspective. To deepen the understanding of land use impacts and climate change on sediment load, we explore mechanisms of the suspended sediment yield formation in the Northern Caucasus during the Anthropocene. We examine how sediment flux of various river basins with different land-use/landcover and glacier cover changes during the 1925-2018 period. Our analysis is based on observed mean annual suspended sediment discharges (SSD, kg·s−1) and annual fluxes (SSL, t·yr−1) from 33 Roshydromet gauging stations (Russia). SSL series have been analyzed to detect statistically significant changes during the 1925-2018 period. The occurrence of abrupt change points in SSD was investigated using cumulative sum (CUSUM) charts. We found that SSL has decreased by −1.81% per year on average at most gauges. However, the decline was not linear. Several transition years are expected in the region: increasing trends from the 1950s and decreasing trends from 1988-1994. Correlation analyses showed that variation in SSL trend values is mainly explained by gauging station altitude, differences in land use (i.e., the fraction of cropland), and catchment area. Nonetheless, more accurate quantifications of SSL trend values and more refined characterizations of the catchments regarding (historical) land use, soil types/lithology, weather conditions, and topography may reveal other tendencies.