Xiong, YJ; Yin, J; Paw, UKT; Zhao, SH; Qiu, GY; Liu, ZY (2020). How the three Gorges Dam affects the hydrological cycle in the mid-lower Yangtze River: a perspective based on decadal water temperature changes. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 15(1), 14002.

Three Gorges Dam (TGD), the world's largest hydroelectric project in terms of installed capacity, alters the discharge and thermal regime of the Yangtze River in China, thereby threatening the aquatic biodiversity along the mid-lower Yangtze River. Thus, the influence of the TGD impoundment on the river temperature (T-w) and water cycle warrants in-depth examination. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to use decadal (2001-2013) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer temperature data to assess the impacts of TGD impoundment on the inland water cycle. We found that (1) spatially, the multiyear T-w decreased by 5 degrees C along the mid-lower Yangtze River, (2) temporally, T-w exhibited a warming trend after the operation of the TGD began, with most warming occurring from October to December directly after the TGD impoundment, and (3) the correlations between discharge and T-w in the pre- and post-TGD periods have changed; specifically, the closer to the TGD a location is, the greater the change in the relationship. Our analysis implies that downstream water temperature alteration is mainly attributed to the TGD management regime, and the influence is obvious along the 260 km river downstream of the TGD. It is likely that the impoundment of the TGD has increased the water residence time and slowed the water speed downstream.