Impacts of Three Gorges Dam's operation on spatial–temporal patterns of tide–river dynamics in the Yangtze River estuary, China

Huayang Cai, Xianyi Zhang, Min Zhang, Leicheng Guo, Feng Liu, Qingshu Yang
2019 Ocean Science (OS)  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> The Three Gorges Dam (TGD), located in the main stream of the Yangtze River, is the world's largest hydroelectric station in terms of installed power capacity. It was demonstrated that the TGD had caused considerable modifications in the downstream freshwater discharge due to its seasonal operation mode of multiple utilisation for flood control, irrigation, and power generation. To understand the impacts of the freshwater regulation of the TGD, an analytical model
more » ... s adopted to explore how the operation of the TGD may affect the spatial–temporal patterns of tide–river dynamics in the Yangtze River estuary. We evaluated the effect of the TGD by comparing the changes in major tide–river dynamics in the post-TGD period (2003–2014) with those in the pre-TGD period (1979–1984). The results indicate that the strongest impacts occurred during the autumn and winter, corresponding to a substantial reduction in freshwater discharge during the wet-to-dry transition period and slightly increased discharge during the dry season. The underlying mechanism leading to changes in the tide–river dynamics lies in the alteration of freshwater discharge, while the impact of geometric change is minimal. Overall, the results suggest that the spatial–temporal pattern of tide–river dynamics is sensitive to the freshwater regulation of the TGD, so that the ecosystem function of the estuary may undergo profound disturbances. The results obtained from this study can be used to set scientific guidelines for water resource management (e.g. navigation, flood control, salt intrusion) in dam-controlled estuarine systems.</p>
doi:10.5194/os-15-583-2019 fatcat:6hk63we75jaw7jkxvkxqzsxi24