Main content area

Comprehensive assessment of dam impacts on flow regimes with consideration of interannual variations

Zhang, Yongyong, Shao, Quanxi, Zhao, Tongtiegang
Journal of hydrology 2017 v.552 pp. 447-459
cluster analysis, drought, humans, hydrograph, issues and policy, principal component analysis, resource management, China
Assessing the impact of human intervention on flow regimes is important in policy making and resource management. Previous impact assessments of dam regulation on flow regimes have focused on long-term average patterns, but interannual variations, which are important characteristics to be considered, have been ignored. In this study, the entire signatures of hydrograph variations of Miyun Reservoir in northern China were described by forty flow regime metrics that incorporate magnitude, variability and frequency, duration, timing, and rate of change for flow events based on a long-term synchronous observation series of inflow and outflow. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis were used to reduce the multidimensionality of the metrics and time and to determine impact patterns and their interannual shifts. Statistically significant driving factors of impact pattern variations were identified. We found that dam regulation resulted in four main impact classes on the flow regimes and that the regulated capacity was interannually attenuated from 1973 to 2010. The impact patterns alternated between the highly regulated class with extremely decreasing flow magnitude, slight variability, and extreme intermittency and the slightly regulated class with extremely increasing flow magnitude, slight variability, and extreme intermittency from 1973 to 1987 and then stabilized in the latter class from 1988 to 2001. After 2001, the pattern gradually changed from the moderately regulated class with moderately decreasing flow magnitude, extreme variability, and extreme intermittency to the slightly regulated class with slightly decreasing flow magnitude, slight variability, and no intermittency. Decreasing precipitation and increasing drought were the primary drivers for the interannual variations of the impact patterns, and inflow variability was the most significant factor affecting the patterns, followed by flow event frequency and duration, magnitude, and timing. This study shows that the use of interannual characteristics can help to gain more insight into the impact of dam regulation on flow regimes and will provide important information to scientifically guide the multi-purpose regulation of dams.