Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2015, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (3): 274-288.doi: 10.1007/s11442-015-1167-x

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Non-stationary water-level fluctuation in China’s Poyang Lake and its interactions with Yangtze River

Xue DAI1,2(), Rongrong WAN1,*(), Guishan YANG1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, Nanjing 210008, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2014-05-06 Accepted:2014-07-02 Online:2015-03-15 Published:2015-03-15
  • Contact: Rongrong WAN;
  • About author:

    Author: Dai Xue (1988-), MS, specialized in watershed hydrology and ecological effects.

  • Supported by:
    National Basic Research Program of China (“973” Program), No.2012CB417006;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171024;No.41271500


Seasonal water-level fluctuations (WLF) play a dominate role in lacustrine ecosystems. River-lake interaction is a direct factor in changes of seasonal lake WLF, especially for those lakes naturally connected to upstream and downstream rivers. During the past decade, the modification of WLF in the Poyang Lake (the largest freshwater lake in China) has caused intensified flood and irrigation crises, reduced water availability, compromised water quality and extensive degradation of the lake ecosystem. There has been a conjecture as to whether the modification was caused by its interactions with Yangtze River. In this study, we investigated the variations of seasonal WLF in China’s Poyang Lake by comparing the water levels during the four distinct seasons (the dry season, the rising season, the flood season, and the retreating season) before and after 2003 when the Three Gorge Dam operated. The Water Surface Slope (WSS) was used as a representative parameter to measure the changes in river-lake interaction and its impacts on seasonal WLF. The results showed that the magnitude of seasonal WLF has changed considerably since 2003; the seasonal WLF of the Poyang Lake have been significantly altered by the fact that the water levels both rise and retreat earlier in the season and lowered water levels in general. The fluctuations of river-lake interactions, in particular the changes during the retreating season, are mainly responsible for these variations in magnitude of seasonal WLF. This study demonstrates that WSS is a representative parameter to denote river-lake interactions, and the results indicate that more emphasis should be placed on the decrease of the Poyang Lake caused by the lowered water levels of the Yangtze River, especially in the retreating season.

Key words: seasonal water-level fluctuations in lakes, slope of water surface, river-lake interactions, Poyang Lake