Wang, Y; Feng, L; Liu, JG; Hou, XJ; Chen, DL (2020). Changes of inundation area and water turbidity of Tonle Sap Lake: responses to climate changes or upstream dam construction?. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 15(9), 0940a1.

Using long-term Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat satellite observations, the inundation changes of Tonle Sap Lake between 1988 and 2018 were investigated. The results show that the inundation area was stable before 2000, followed by a significant shrinking trend between 2000 and 2018. Quantitative remote sensing retrievals for concentrations of the total suspended sediments (TSS) also demonstrate an evident increasing trend (7.92 mg l(-1)yr(-1)) since 2000. A strong correlation (R-2= 0.67) was found between the annual mean inundation area and concurrent precipitation in a region located in the lower basin of the Mekong River (mostly outside the drainage basin of Tonle Sap Lake). A multiple general linear model (GLM) regression further pointed to the precipitation variation as a major contributor (76.1%) to the interannual fluctuation of the inundation area, while the dams constructed in China only contributed to 6.9%. The limited impacts of Chinese dams on the inundation area of the lake could be revealed through the limited fraction of water discharge from the Mekong River within China (similar to 17%). The analysis also found significant impacts of inundation changes on the recent lake turbidity increase in the dry seasons. We clearly revealed that the contribution of dam construction in China to the recent lake shrinkage was insignificant when compared with the impacts of the precipitation decrease. The results of this study provide important scientific evidence for settling water volume-related transboundary disputes regarding the control of the inundation area and water turbidity of Tonle Sap Lake.