The 1998 Flood on the Yangtze, China


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Chen, X.: 1996 An integrated study of sediment discharge from the Changjiang River, China and the delta development since the mid-Holocene, J. Coastal Res. 12(1), 26–37.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Chen, X. and Zong, Y.: 1998, Coastal erosion along the Changjiang deltaic shoreline, China: history and prospective, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sci. 46, 733–742.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Fang, J.: 1991, A pilot study on the impact of post-glacial sea-level rise on the middle and lower reaches of the Changjiang River, Acta Geographica Sinica 46(4), 427–435 (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hosking, J. R. M. and Wallis, J. R.: 1997 Regional Frequency Analysis: An Approach Based on L-Moments, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Lin, C. and Lu, J.: 1991, Studies on the anomaly of Plum Rain and flood disaster in the Yangtze River valley, J. Nanjing University, Special Issue on the Causes and Countermeasure of Natural Disaster, pp. 76-83 (in Chinese).

  6. Lu, J. Y. and Luo, H. K.: 1999 Preliminary analysis on the relationship between the Yangtze and Dongting Lake, Yangtze River 30, 24–26 (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Lu, X. and Higgitt, D. L.: 1998, Recent changes of sediment yield in the upper Yangtze, China, Environ. Managt 22(5), 697–709.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Perry, A. H.: 1981 Environmental Hazards in the British Isles, George Allen & Unwin, London, 191 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Perry, C. A.: 1994 Effects of Reservoirs on Flood Discharges in the Kansas and Missouri River Basins 1993, Circular 120-E, US Geological Survey, Denver.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Pielke, Jr. R. A.: 1996, Midwest Flood of 1993: Weather, Climate and Societal Impacts, Environmental & Societal Impacts Group, National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307-3000 USA.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Smith, K. and Ward, R.: 1998, Floods, Physical Processes and Human Impacts, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

    Google Scholar 

  12. The State Statistical Bureau of China: 1992, China Population Statistics Yearbook, China Statistics Press.

  13. The State Statistical Bureau of China: 1995 Report of the Damage Caused by Disasters in China. China Statistics Press.

  14. Wang, J. (ed.): 1995, Regionalization of Hazards in China, China Science & Technology Press, Beijing (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

  15. White, G. F.: 1974, Natural Hazards: Local, National, Global, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Xu, G. Q.: 1992, Flood Prevention, Water Resources and Hydro-Electricity Press House, Beijing (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

  17. Zhang, Z.: 1991, Present situation of Dongting Lake and new consideration about its control, J. Nanjing University, Special Issue on the Causes and Countermeasure of Natural Disaster, pp. 36-141 (in Chinese).

  18. Zhou, Z.: 1991, Synoptic characteristics of atmospheric circulation during abnormal Plum Rain period in 1991, J. Nanjing University, Special Issue on the Causes and Countermeasure of Natural Disaster, pp. 84-93 (in Chinese).

  19. Zhu, C., Yu, S., and Lu, C.: 1997, The study of Holocene environmental archaeology and extreme flood disaster in the Three Gorges of the Changjiang River and Jianghan Plain, Acta Geographica Sinica 52(3), 268–277 (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zong, Y., Chen, X. The 1998 Flood on the Yangtze, China. Natural Hazards 22, 165–184 (2000).

Download citation

  • Yangtze
  • flood
  • natural hazards
  • causes
  • land reclamation
  • counter-measures