, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 165-184

The 1998 Flood on the Yangtze, China

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Abstract

This paper examines the main causes ofthe 1998 flood on the Yangtze and addresses a numberof issues related to the exploitation of naturalresources and counter-measures to the flood hazard.The records show that both the amount of precipitationover the catchment and the floodwater discharge fromthe upper basin did not exceed the historical maximum,but water levels in the middle basin were recordedmuch higher than the historical maximum. Humanactivities have greatly increased the risk of theflood hazard. Extensive reclamation of the lakes andfluvial islands in the middle basin has considerablyreduced the floodwater storage and drainage capacityof these natural landscapes of the Yangtze Basin.Deforestation in the catchment area has induced soilerosion, resulting in a large amount of sedimentdeposited in reservoirs whose storage capacity is thusreduced. Strengthening the flood defence to protectpeople living on the floodplain has raised the waterlevel during the flood. An integrated approach isneeded to produce a balanced management plan that canmeet the financial needs of local people in thecatchment area as well as reduce flood risk to theindustries and urban residents in the middle basin ofthe Yangtze.