Date: 13 Jan 2009

Wavelet-based characterization of water level behaviors in the Pearl River estuary, China

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Abstract

In this paper, we analyzed the high/low water levels of eight stations along the Pearl River estuary and the high/low tidal levels of Sanzao station, and streamflow series of Sanshui and Makou stations using wavelet transform technique and correlation analysis method. The behaviors of high/low water levels of the Pearl River estuary, possible impacts of hydrological processes of the upper Pearl River Delta and astronomical tidal fluctuations were investigated. The results indicate that: (1) the streamflow variability of Sanshui and Makou stations is characterized by 1-year period; 1-, 0.5- and 0.25-year periods can be detected in the high tidal level series of Sanzao station, which reflect the fluctuations of astronomical tidal levels. The low tidal level series of Sanzao station has two periodicity elements, i.e. 0.5- and 0.25-year periods; (2) different periodicity properties have been revealed: the periods of high water levels of the Pearl River estuary are characterized by 1-, 0.5- and 0.25-year periods; and 1-year period is the major period in the low water levels of the Pearl River estuary; (3) periodicity properties indicate that behaviors of low water levels are mainly influenced by hydrological processes of the upper Pearl River Delta. High water levels of the Pearl River estuary seem to be affected by both hydrological processes and fluctuations of astronomical tidal levels represented by tidal level changes of Sanzao station. Correlation analysis results further corroborate this conclusion; (4) slight differences can be observed in wavelet transform patterns and properties of relationships between high/low water levels and streamflow changes. This can be formulated by altered hydrodynamic and morphodynamic processes due to intensifying human activities such as construction of engineering infrastructures and land reclamation.