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Assessment of Hydrologic Alterations Caused by the Three Gorges Dam in the Middle and Lower Reaches of Yangtze River, China

by Liuzhi Jiang 1,2, Xuan Ban 1,3, Xuelei Wang 1,3,* and Xiaobin Cai 1,3
1
Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 340 XuDong Rd., Wuhan 430077, Hubei, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.19A Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China
3
Hubei Key Laboratory of Environment and Disaster Monitoring and Evaluation, 340 XuDong Rd., Wuhan 430077, Hubei, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2014, 6(5), 1419-1434; https://doi.org/10.3390/w6051419
Received: 31 March 2014 / Revised: 1 May 2014 / Accepted: 14 May 2014 / Published: 22 May 2014
Hydrologic regime plays a major role in structuring biotic diversity within river ecosystems by controlling key habitat conditions within the river channel and floodplain. Daily flow records from seven hydrological stations and the range of variability approach were utilized to investigate the variability and spatial pattern of the hydrologic alterations induced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China. Results show that the impoundment of the TGD disturbed the hydrologic regime downstream and directly affected the streamflow variations. The rate of changes and the annual extreme conditions were more affected by the TGD, particularly the low-flow relevant parameters. The alterations in the hydrologic regime were mainly caused by the TGD storing water during early autumn and releasing water during winter and spring. The effects on spatial patterns decreased as the distance from the dam increased, which was mainly attributed to the inflows from large tributaries along the Yangtze River as well as the interaction with the two largest natural lakes (i.e., Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake). These hydrologic alterations not only break the natural balance of eco-flow regimes but also result in undesirable ecological effects, particularly in terms of habitat availability for the fish community. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrologic alteration; range of variability approach; indicators of hydrologic alteration; Three Gorges Dam; Yangtze River hydrologic alteration; range of variability approach; indicators of hydrologic alteration; Three Gorges Dam; Yangtze River
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Jiang, L.; Ban, X.; Wang, X.; Cai, X. Assessment of Hydrologic Alterations Caused by the Three Gorges Dam in the Middle and Lower Reaches of Yangtze River, China. Water 2014, 6, 1419-1434.

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