Impacts of the Three Gorges Reservoir on its immediate downstream hydrological drought regime during 1950–2016

  • Meixiu YuEmail author
  • Xiaolong Liu
  • Qiongfang LiEmail author
Original Paper


Impacts of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) on the downstream hydrological extremes always draw public attentions, particularly during its (quasi) normal water storing period. To investigate the impact of the TGR on its downstream hydrological drought regime during different operation stages, Yichang and Cuntan stations were selected as the case study site with Cuntan station as a reference. On the basis of the recent updated long-term flow discharge data series from 1950 to 2016, drought occurrence, duration and frequency of the hydrological droughts downstream of the TGR during pre- and post-dam periods were analyzed and compared, respectively. Abrupt changes were also identified for hydrological drought at different timescales. Results showed that TGR’s operation altered its downstream seasonal variation patterns of dry/wet spells, i.e., more severe drought from middle summer to middle winter while much wetter condition in late winter and spring; impacts on the downstream hydrological drought intensify with upgrading reservoir water storing levels; significant abrupt changes of hydrological droughts were identified, and the abrupt changing years were greatly correlated with the impoundment stages of the TGR. The study could provide valuable references for the ecological security and integrated water resources management of the Yangtze River basin and other large rivers severely impacted by anthropogenic activities over the world.


Three Gorges Reservoir Normal water storing period Hydrological drought Abrupt change Yangtze River basin 



Financial support is gratefully acknowledged from the Project (BK20160868) supported by the Jiangsu Province Science Foundation, the Project (2017B10814) supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, National Key Research and Development Programs of China (2016YFA0601501) and the Projects (51679145, 91747103) supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interests during this submission.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Hydrology and Water ResourcesHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Research Center for Climate Change of Ministry of Water ResourcesNanjingChina
  4. 4.Center for International River Research, School of BusinessHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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