Has the Three-Gorges Dam made the Poyang Lake wetlands wetter and drier?

Authors

  • Q. Zhang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
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  • L. Li,

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resource and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    2. National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
    • Corresponding author: L. Li, National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia. (l.li@uq.edu.au)

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  • Y.-G. Wang,

    1. Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics, School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • A. D. Werner,

    1. National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Environment, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
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  • P. Xin,

    1. National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
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  • T. Jiang,

    1. National Climate Centre, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
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  • D. A. Barry

    1. Laboratoire de Technologie Écologique, Institut d'Ingénierie de l'Environnement, Faculté de l'Environnement Naturel, Architectural et Construit, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
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Abstract

[1] The Three-Georges Dam holds many records in the history of engineering. While the dam has produced benefits in terms of flood control, hydropower generation and increased navigation capacity of the Yangtze River, serious questions have been raised concerning its impact on both upstream and downstream ecosystems. It has been suggested that the dam operation intensifies the extremes of wet and dry conditions in the downstream Poyang Lake, and affects adversely important local wetlands. A floodgate has been proposed to maintain the lake water level by controlling the flow between the Poyang Lake and Yangtze River. Using extensive hydrological data and generalized linear statistical models, we demonstrated that the dam operation induces major changes in the downstream river discharge near the dam, including an average “water loss”. The analysis also revealed considerable effects on the Poyang Lake water level, particularly a reduced level over the dry period from late summer to autumn. However, the dam impact needs to be further assessed based on long-term monitoring of the lake ecosystem, covering a wide range of parameters related to hydrological and hydraulic characteristics of the lake, water quality, geomorphological characteristics, aquatic biota and their habitat, wetland vegetation and associated fauna.

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