This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Based on the hydrological and meteorological data of the upper reaches of Shiyang River basin in Northwest China from 1960 to 2009, this paper analyzed the change in runoff and its related climatic factors, and estimated the contribution of climate change and human activity to runoff change by using the moving T test, cumulative analysis of anomalies and multiple regression analysis. The results showed that temperature revealed a significant increasing trend, and potential evaporation capacity decreased significantly, while precipitation increased insignificantly in the past recent 50 years. Although there were three mutations in 1975, 1990 and 2002 respectively, runoff presented a slight decreasing trend in the whole period. The contributions of climate change and human activity to runoff change during the period of 1976-2009 were 45% and 55% respectively.