Water level response to hydropower development in the upper Mekong River.

  • Li S
  • He D
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Environmental changes and their transboundary influences on the Mekong watercourse system have been an international research focus in recent years, but the opinions and results related to the impacts of upper Mekong River dams are quite different. In this paper, based on the records of water levels from 1960 to 2003 at three mainstream sites in the upper Mekong River, a quantitative examination has been undertaken into characteristics of the mainstream water-level process at multiple timescales and its response to cascade development. The major results are: i) Annual mean, wet period mean, and the mean water levels during the period between March and April (PBMA period) exhibit a significant increasing trend at Jiuzhou and Yunjinghong sites, which are influenced by large-scale factors such as climate change and solar activity. ii) The interdecadal and interannual variations of annual mean, annual maximum, and wet period mean water levels at three sites show similar features during the dam construction period. iii) The interdecadal variations of PBMA period water level show a gradual increase at Gajiu and Yunjinghong sites but a falling trend at Jiuzhou; these trends confirm that there is some regulation on the flow in the dry season caused by the two existing dams. iv) The downstream effects of the present dams on water levels are very limited at the annual mean and wet season mean levels, not apparent at the monthly and yearly timescales, and relatively significant at daily and hourly timescales.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Asia
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Power Plants
  • Rivers

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  • Shaojuan Li

  • Daming He

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