Natural streamflow series usually exhibit a power law tail with a magnitude–frequency relationship; however, it is not known how the power law distribution of daily streamflow varies under the influence of climate change and human activities. Based on the annual streamflow series of Toudaoguai, Longmen, Sanmenxia, Huayuankou, Gaocun, and Lijin stations located in the Yellow River in China, the Mann–Kendall and Mann–Whitney–Pettitt methods were used to identify change-points. Thereafter, the power law distributions of the daily streamflow series before and after abrupt changes were studied based on the two-parameter power law distribution method. The results reveal that, firstly, under the influence of human activities, abrupt changes have taken place in the streamflow series of the Yellow River, mainly in the storage year of large reservoirs. Secondly, the daily streamflow series at four out of six stations obey a power law distribution, however, with short tails. The power law characteristics of the series before the abrupt change are essentially consistent with the entire streamflow series; however, these characteristics gradually disappear after abrupt changes. Thirdly, human activities are the main factors underlying the variations in the power law distribution of daily streamflow in different periods. This study provides a way for the study of streamflow changes in the Yellow River and may also offer a scientific basis for water resources development and ecological restoration.

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