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Changes in Water Level Regimes in China’s Two Largest Freshwater Lakes: Characterization and Implication

1
Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 917; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050917
Received: 1 April 2019 / Revised: 24 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wetland Ecohydrology and Water Resource Management)
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Abstract

The complex water regimes and fragile ecological systems in Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake, located in the middle reach of the Yangtze River, have been significantly affected by regional climate change and anthropogenic activities. The hydrological data from the outlets of Dongting Lake (Chenglingji station) during 1955–2016 and Poyang Lake (Hukou station) during 1953–2014 were divided into two periods: the pre-impact period and the post-impact period. Four statistical tests were used to identify the change years: 1979 at Chenglingji and 2003 at Hukou. The indicators of hydrologic alteration and range of variability approach were used to assess alterations in water level regimes. Results show that the severely altered indicators were January water level at both lake outlets, and 1-, 3-, 7- and 30-day minimum water level at Chenglingji, with the degree of hydrological alteration being larger than 85%. The overall degrees of hydrological alteration at Chenglingji and Hukou were 52.6% and 38.2%, respectively, indicating that water level regimes experienced moderate alteration and low alteration or that ecosystems were at moderate risk and low risk, respectively. Changes in water level regimes were jointly affected by climate change and anthropogenic activities. Water level regimes at Dongting Lake outlet were mainly affected by increased rainfall and dam regulation. Decreased rainfall, dam regulation, and sediment erosion and deposition were the main impact factors of water level regimes at Poyang Lake outlet. These changes in water level regimes have greatly influenced both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, especially for fish and vegetation communities. This study is beneficial for water resource management and ecosystems protection under regional changes. View Full-Text
Keywords: water level regimes; hydrological alteration; ecological effects; lake outlet water level regimes; hydrological alteration; ecological effects; lake outlet
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Cheng, J.; Xu, L.; Feng, W.; Fan, H.; Jiang, J. Changes in Water Level Regimes in China’s Two Largest Freshwater Lakes: Characterization and Implication. Water 2019, 11, 917.

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