Liu, YB; Wu, GP; Zhao, XS (2013). Recent declines in China's largest freshwater lake: trend or regime shift?. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 8(1), 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014010.
Poyang Lake is China's largest freshwater lake with a high degree of spatio-temporal variation. The lake has shrunk in size in recent years, resulting in significant hydrological, ecological and economic consequences. It remains unknown whether the shrinkage is a trend or a regime shift, which is of high importance for policymakers as it may lead to different decisions. This study constructed a four-decade record of the lake area using multi-temporal satellite images and hydrological data. The Mann-Kendall analysis revealed a decreasing trend of Poyang Lake but it was statistically insignificant. The Rodionov sequential approach disclosed an abrupt change of the lake in 2006, implying a regime shift. Basically, the lake change was a synthetic result of precipitation, evapotranspiration and outflow discharge. However, precipitation and outflow did not show any significant trend or abrupt change, and evapotranspiration had an increasing trend in addition to an abrupt change in 1998. The trigger for the recent lake declines was principally ascribed to a weakened blocking effect of the Yangtze River. The findings provide an example of hydrologic non-stationarity and are valuable for effective promotion of climate adaptation and water resource management.