Water level variation characteristics under the impacts of extreme drought and the operation of the Three Gorges Dam

Abstract

Under the influence of a climate of extreme drought and the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) operation, the water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in 2006 and 2011 changed significantly compared with those in the extreme drought years of 1978 and 1986. To quantitatively analyze the characteristics of water level variations in 2006 and 2011, a new calculation method was proposed, and the daily water level and discharge from 1955–2016 were collected in this study. The findings are as follows: in 2006 and 2011, the water level in the dry season significantly increased, but that in the flood season obviously decreased compared with the levels in 1978 and 1986. Here, we described this phenomenon as “no low-water-level in dry season, no high-water-level in flood season”. Based on the calculation method, the contributions of climate variability and the Three Gorges Dam operation to water level variations in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River were calculated, and the contributions indicated that climate variability was the main reason for the phenomenon of “no low-water-level in dry season, no high-water-level in flood season” instead of flood peak reduction in the flood season and drought runoff implementation in the dry season, which are both induced by TGD.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Science and Technology Support Program of China (2012BAB04B04), the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2010CB429002), Open Research Fund Program of State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science (2016HLG02), and National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0402106). We also highly appreciate the valuable insights from the reviewers.

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Correspondence to Yitian Li.

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Chai, Y., Li, Y., Yang, Y. et al. Water level variation characteristics under the impacts of extreme drought and the operation of the Three Gorges Dam. Front. Earth Sci. 13, 510–522 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-018-0739-3

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Keywords

  • water level
  • extreme drought climate
  • the Three Gorges Dam
  • the Yangtze River Basin