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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(10), 1069; doi:10.3390/rs9101069

Assessment of the Hydro-Ecological Impacts of the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Largest Freshwater Lake

Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 21008, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 July 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
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The Three Gorges Dam (TGD) has received increasing attention with respect to its potential effects on downstream hydro-ecosystems. Poyang Lake is the largest freshwater lake downstream of the TGD, and it is not immune to these impacts. Here, we combine hydrological observations, remote sensing, a geographic information system (GIS), and landscape ecology technology to investigate the variability and spatial pattern of the hydro-ecological alterations to Poyang Lake induced by the operation of the TGD. It was found that the TGD caused significant hydro-ecological alterations across the Poyang Lake wetland. Specifically, the TGD operation altered the seasonal inundation pattern of Poyang Lake and significantly reduced the monthly inundation frequencies (IFs), which were especially notable (~30–40%) from September to November. Spatially, the declining IFs led to an increase in the mudflat area that is suitable for the growth of vegetation. The vegetation area increased by 58.82 km2 and 463.73 km2 in the low- and high-water season, respectively, with the most significant changes occurring in the estuary delta of the Ganjiang and Raohe rivers. The results also indicated that the changes in the inundation pattern and floodplain vegetation have profoundly altered the structure and composition of the wetland, which has resulted in increased landscape diversity and a gradual increase in the complexity of the ecosystem composition under the influence of regulation of the TGD. Such results are of great importance for policymakers, as they may provide a reference for wetland water resource planning and landscape restoration in an operational dam environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: Poyang Lake; TGD; hydro-ecological impact; remote sensing; geographic information system Poyang Lake; TGD; hydro-ecological impact; remote sensing; geographic information system

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wu, G.; Liu, Y. Assessment of the Hydro-Ecological Impacts of the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Largest Freshwater Lake. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 1069.

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