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• The Mahanadi is the second largest India peninsular river in terms of water and sediment discharge to the Bay of Bengal
• Water discharge and rainfall in the basin showed no significant decreasing trend
• Sediment discharge has been declined at the rate of 0.515 × 106 tons/year between 1980 and 2010
• Decline in the sediment discharge is attributed to the anthropogenic factor
The transport of sediments by rivers to the oceans represents an important link between the terrestrial and marine ecosystem. Therefore, this work aims to study spatio-temporal variation of the sediment discharge and erosion rate in the Mahanadi river, one of the biggest rivers in India, over past three decades vis-à-vis their controlling factors. To understand the sediment load variation, the trend analysis in the time series data of rainfall, water and sediment discharge of the Mahanadi river were also attempted. The non-parametric Mann-Kendall and Sen's methods were used to determine whether there was a positive or negative trend in the time series data with their statistical significance. The occurrence of abrupt changes was detected using Pettitt test. The trend test result represents that sediment load delivered from the Mahanadi river to the global ocean has decreased sharply at the rate of 0.515 × 106 tons/year between 1980 and 2010. Water discharge and rainfall in the basin showed no significant decreasing trend except at only one tributary. The decline in sediment discharge from the basin to the Bay of Bengal is mainly due to the increase in the number of dams, which has recorded the increase from 70 to 253 during the period of 1980 to 2010. Over the past 30 years the Mahanadi river has discharged about 49.0 ± 20.5 km3 of water and 17.4 ± 12.7 × 106 tons of sediment annually to the Bay of Bengal whereas the mean erosional rate is 265 ± 125 tons/km2/year over the period of 30 years in the basin. Based on the current data (2000–2001 to 2009–2010), sediment flux and water discharge to the ocean are 12 ± 5 × 106 tons/year and 49 ± 16 km3/year respectively; and ranking Mahanadi river second in terms of water discharge and sediment flux to the ocean among the peninsular rivers in India.
Journal: Global and Planetary Change - Volume 144, September 2016, Pages 51–66