The main goal of this study is to introduce the Archimedean copulas, which overcome the low accuracy and subjective nature of the traditional double mass curve method, to investigate the precipitation–runoff relationship (PRR) and detect change points in the Weihe River Basin (WRB). With the construction of a joint distribution between precipitation and runoff by the Archimedean copulas, a statistical variable considering the distribution parameter was estimated to judge the change point of the PRR. The results show that: (1) annual precipitation and runoff present decreasing trends that are significant and insignificant, respectively, at the 95% significance level, while annual potential evapotranspiration (PET) increases slightly; (2) change points of the PRR occurred in 1971 and 1994; (3) the annual runoff changed more dramatically than precipitation during the periods from 1972 to 1994 and 1995 to 2010 compared with 1960–1971, which indicates that in addition to precipitation, there are some other non-precipitation factors that are responsible for the change in the PRR; and (4) the contributions to runoff from human activities declined from 1972 to 1994 (84.15%) and 1995 to 2010 (57.16%). These results suggest that human activities (e.g., irrigation, reservoirs, water-and-soil conservation) were the primary driving forces leading to changes in the PRR in the WRB.

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