Water Resources Management

, Volume 28, Issue 15, pp 5377–5388 | Cite as

Hydrological Drought at Dongting Lake: Its Detection, Characterization, and Challenges Associated With Three Gorges Dam in Central Yangtze, China

  • Qun Huang
  • Zhandong Sun
  • Christian Opp
  • Tom Lotz
  • Jiahu Jiang
  • Xijun Lai


The hydrological drought analysis at Dongting Lake is important for clarifying some of the most complex hydrological issues in relation to the intertwined interactions of a lake-river-reservoir system from the operation of Three Gorges Dam (TGD) located upstream of the central Yangtze River. The assessment metrics for a hydrological drought were established according to the exposed wetlands associated with ecological impacts, and used to determine the characteristic water level for the occurrence and severity of drought. The causal effects of a hydrological drought were analyzed based on the hydrological regimes across lake areas, and the drought impact from the flow regulation in the TGD was evaluated by using a neural network model. The hydrological systems analysis indicates that: 1) the frequency, severity and causes of hydrological droughts varied for different lake areas and seasons due to the specific basin morphology and the deviation of water regimes; 2) the water storage in the Three Gorges Reservoir has advanced the exposed time of wetlands, and has prolonged the autumn drought by approximately 30 %. However, the modeling also reveals that the regular operation of the TGD did not change the natural drought trends at Dongting Lake, and it is not deemed as the primary cause of recent hydrological droughts.


Dongting Lake Hydrologic droughts Three Gorges Dam Yangtze River Water sustainability 



This work was financially supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2012CB417003), and the Frontier and Interdisciplinary Research Program, CAS, China (No. NIGLAS2012135018). Constructive comments from anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qun Huang
    • 1
  • Zhandong Sun
    • 1
  • Christian Opp
    • 2
  • Tom Lotz
    • 2
  • Jiahu Jiang
    • 1
  • Xijun Lai
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.Faculty of GeographyUniversity of MarburgMarburg/LahnGermany

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