Recent changes of sediment yield in the Upper Yangtze, China

  • Lu X
  • Higgitt D
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/ Reservoir sedimentation is one of the many environmental problems associated with the Three Gorges Project in China. The rate and characteristics of sedimentation that directly affect the operating life of the reservoir are closely related to soil erosion and sediment transport dynamics in the upstream catchment and to the ability to manage the throughput of sediment-laden waters. The recent changes in sediment yield were examined using gauging data from 187 stations of varying sizes from less than 100 km2 to larger than 1,000,000 km2 in the Upper Yangtze basin between 1956 and 1987. Whereas many previous studies have concentrated on the trends in the main channel of the Yangtze, the distributed pattern of changes across the whole catchment is complex. Results from time series analysis indicate ten stations, mainly located in the Dadu and Wu tributaries (with a total incremental catchment area of 78,963 km2) have shown increasing trajectories of sediment yield, and six stations, located in the upper Jialing and Tuo tributaries (with a total incremental area of 27,816 km2) have experienced decreasing trajectories. By dividing the time series into three components, it is possible to map significant decadal changes in sediment yields that can be related to phases of deforestation and the construction of water conservancy projects. Most of the observed decreases in sediment yield are associated with large reservoir schemes on tributary rivers. The lack of evidence for increasing sediment input to the Three Gorges area masks a considerable variation in sediment conveyance and storage within the Upper Yangtze catchment.KEY WORDS: Sediment yield; Reservoir sedimentation; Three Gorges Project; Time series analysis; China

Author-supplied keywords

  • China
  • Reservoir sedimentation
  • Sediment yield
  • Three Gorges Project
  • Time series analysis

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  • Xixi Lu

  • David L. Higgitt

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