Please wait a minute...
 Home  About the Journal Subscription Advertisement Contact us   英文  
Just Accepted  |  Current Issue  |  Archive  |  Featured Articles  |  Most Read  |  Most Download  |  Most Cited
Journal of Geographical Sciences    2018, Vol. 28 Issue (12) : 1975-1993     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-018-1575-9
Research Articles |
The relationship between water level change and river channel geometry adjustment in the downstream of the Three Gorges Dam
YANG Yunping1,2(),ZHANG Mingjin2,SUN Zhaohua1,HAN Jianqiao3,*(),Wang Jianjun2
1. State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
2. Key Laboratory of Engineering Sediment, Tianjin Research Institute for Water Transport Engineering, Ministry of Transport, Tianjin 300456, China
3. Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, Yangling 712100, Shaanxi, China
Download: PDF(1568 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks    

In this study, data measured from 1955-2016 were analysed to study the relationship between the water level and river channel geometry adjustment in the downstream of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) after the impoundment of the dam. The results highlight the following facts: (1) for the same flow, the low water level decreased, flood water level changed little, lowest water level increased, and highest water level decreased at the hydrological stations in the downstream of the dam; (2) the distribution of erosion and deposition along the river channel changed from “erosion at channels and deposition at bankfulls” to “erosion at both channels and bankfulls;” the ratio of low-water channel erosion to bankfull channel erosion was 95.5% from October 2002 to October 2015, with variations between different impoundment stages; (3) the low water level decrease slowed down during the channel erosion in the Upper Jingjiang reach and reaches upstream but sped up in the Lower Jingjiang reach and reaches downstream; measures should be taken to prevent the decrease in the channel water level; (4) erosion was the basis for channel dimension upscaling in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River; the low water level decrease was smaller than the thalweg decline; both channel water depth and width increased under the combined effects of channel and waterway regulations; and (5) the geometry of the channels above bankfulls did not significantly change; however, the comprehensive channel resistance increased under the combined effects of riverbed coarsening, beach vegetation, and human activities; as a result, the flood water level increased markedly and moderate flood to high water level phenomena occurred, which should be considered. The Three Gorges Reservoir effectively enhances the flood defense capacity of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River; however, the superposition effect of tributary floods cannot be ruled out.

Keywords low water level      flood water level      riverbed adjustment      cause analysis      Three Gorges Dam      middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River     
Fund:National Key Research and Development Program of China, No.2016YFC0402106; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.51579123, No.51579185, No.51339001; Supported by the Open Research Fund Program of State Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Science, No.2016HLG02; Fundamental Research Funds for Central Welfare Research Institutes, No.TKS160103
Corresponding Authors: HAN Jianqiao     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 27 December 2018
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
YANG Yunping
ZHANG Mingjin
SUN Zhaohua
HAN Jianqiao
Wang Jianjun
Cite this article:   
YANG Yunping,ZHANG Mingjin,SUN Zhaohua, et al. The relationship between water level change and river channel geometry adjustment in the downstream of the Three Gorges Dam[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(12): 1975-1993.
URL:     OR
Figure 1  Schematic of the river sections in the downstream of the TGR
Hydrological station and reach Content Period Source
Yichang, Zhicheng, Shashi, Jianli, Hankou, Datong Water, sediment, flow, water level 1955-2016 Yangtze River Middle and
Lower Reaches Hydrological Yearbook
Songzikou, Taipingkou,
Ouchikou, Chenglingji, Hukou, Huangzhuang
Water, sediment, flow
Yichang-Hukou Reach Amount of river sediment 1987-2015
Yichang-Hukou Reach Water level stations 1981-2014 Changjiang Waterway
Planning Design and Research
Yichang-Yangtze Estuary Depth and width of the shipping channel 2002 and 2015
Table 1  Sediment source and hydrological data of the downstream of the TGD
Figure 2  Changes of discharge and flux in the downstream of the TGD
Figure 3  Relationship between the flow and water level in the lower reaches of the TGD
Figure 4  Minimum water level at the downstream hydrological station of the TGD
Figure 5  Maximum water level in the downstream hydrological station of the TGD
Figure 6  Erosion and deposition changes in the channels of the Yichang-Hukou reaches (The flow rates corresponding to the low-water channel, typical channel, and flood plain channel in the figure are 5000 m3/s, 10,000 m3/s, and 30,000 m3/s, respectively, as measured at the Yichang Station.)
Period of time Reach YZR UJR LJR CHR HHR
Extent (km) 60.8 171.7 175.5 251.0 295.4
1981 to 2002 Low-water channel (%) 102.0 100.6 9.2 17.5 69.6
Low beach (%) -2.0 -0.6 -109.2 -117.5 -169.6
High beach (%)
October 2002 to October 2008 Low-water channel (%) 88.6 89.6 73.2 301.8 60.4
Low beach (%) 1.7 2.2 11.6 -30.7 48.3
High beach (%) 9.6 8.2 15.2 -171.1 -8.7
October 2008 to November 2015 Low-water channel (%) 96.4 94.0 95.4 95.3 115.0
Low beach (%) 4.8 3.1 -0.4 5.8 -11.4
High beach (%) -1.1 2.9 5.0 -1.1 -3.6
Table 2  Erosion and deposition proportion changes in the Yichang-Hukou reaches
Figure 7  Relationship between the siltation/scouring of the channel and low water level
Figure 8  Process of water level decline in the Yichang-Hankou reaches
Figure 9  Amount of dry riverbed and the relationship between the Yichang-Hukou reaches
Figure 10  Sedimentation in the Dongting and Poyang lakes
Riverbed composition Gravel and pebble river Sandy river
Reach Yichang-Zhicheng Zhicheng-Dabujie UJR Chengjlingji-Hukou
Increasing amplitude (%) 91 65 3 2
Table 3  Roughness change due to riverbed coarsening (Han, 2015)
Figure 11  Regulatory effect of the TGR and change of the flow days
Figure 12  Flood control losses in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River
[1] Bormann Helge, Pinter Nicholas, Elfert Simon, 2011. Hydrological signatures of flood trends on German rivers: Flood frequencies, flood heights and specific stages.Journal of Hydrology, 404(1/2): 50-66.
doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.04.019
[2] Cao Fengshuai, Xiao Xin, Wu Penget al., 2010. Yangtze River: China’s golden waterway. Civil Engineering, 163(5): 15-18.
[3] Carle M V, Sasser C E, Roberts H H, 2015. Accretion and vegetation community change in the Wax Lake Delta following the historic 2011 Mississippi River flood.Journal of Coastal Research, 313(3): 569-587.
doi: 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-13-00109.1
[4] Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute(CRSRI), 2015. Yichang to Anqing improving waterway standard effects on flood control and river regime control report in Yangtze River [R]. 299-308. (in Chinese)
[5] Chen S C, Chan H C, Li Y H, 2012. Observations on flow and local scour around submerged flexible vegetation.Advances in Water Resources, 43(6): 28-37.
doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2012.03.017
[6] Chen Zhongyuan, Wang Zhanghua, Finlayson Brianet al., 2010. Implications of flow control by the Three Gorges Dam on sediment and channel dynamics of the Middle Yangtze (Changjiang) River, China.Geology, 38(11): 1043-1046.
doi: 10.1130/G31271.1
[7] Dai S B, Lu X X, 2014. Sediment load change in the Yangtze River (Changjiang): A review.Geomorphology, 215(12): 60-73.
doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.05.027
[8] Dai Zhijun, Liu James T, 2013. Impacts of large dams on downstream fluvial sedimentation: An example of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) on the Changjiang (Yangtze River).Journal of Hydrology, 480(4): 10-18.
doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.12.003
[9] Day J, Cable J, Lane Ret al., 2016. Sediment deposition at the Caernarvon crevasse during the great Mississippi flood of 1927: Implications for coastal restoration.Water, 8(2): 38.
doi: 10.3390/w8020038
[10] Fang Hongwei, Han Dong, He Guojianet al., 2012. Flood management selections for the Yangtze River midstream after the Three Gorges Project operation.Journal of Hydrology, 432/433(8): 1-11.
doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.01.042
[11] Greene S L, Knox J C, 2014. Coupling legacy geomorphic surface facies to riparian vegetation: Assessing red cedar invasion along the Missouri River downstream of Gavins Point dam, South Dakota.Geomorphology, 204(1): 277-286.
doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.08.012
[12] Han Jianqiao, 2015. The interaction mechanism between longitudinal water and sediment transport and channel morphology in the downstream of Three Gorges Reservoir [D]. Wuhan: Wuhan University. (in Chinese)
[13] Han Jianqiao, Sun Zhaohua, Huang Yinget al., 2014. Features and causes of sediment deposition and erosion in Jingjiang reach after impoundment of the Three Gorges Project.Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 45(3): 277-285, 286. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.13243/j.cnki.slxb.2014.03.004
[14] Heidi M Nepf, 2012. Hydrodynamics of vegetated channels.Journal of Hydraulic Research, 50(50): 262-279.
doi: 10.1080/00221686.2012.696559
[15] Jiang Jiahu, Huang Qun, 1997. Sub-element method for seepage analysis with free surface.Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, (8): 40-44. (in Chinese)
[16] Li Yitian, Sun Zhaohua, Liu Yunet al., 2009. Channel degradation downstream from the Three Gorges Project and its impacts on flood level.Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 135(9): 718-728.
doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9429(2009)135:9(718)
[17] Lu Yongjun, Chen Zhicong, Zhao Lianbai et al.Zhao Lianbai , 2002. Impact of the Three Gorges Project on the water level and navigation channel in the near-dam reach downstream the Gezhouba Project.Engineering Science, 4(10): 67-72. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.2753/CSH0009-4633350347
[18] Maren D S V, Yang Shilun, He Qing, 2013. The impact of silt trapping in large reservoirs on downstream morphology: The Yangtze River.Ocean Dynamics, 63(6): 691-707.
doi: 10.1007/s10236-013-0622-4
[19] Mei Xuefei, Dai Zhijun, Gelder P H A J Met al., 2015. Linking Three Gorges Dam and downstream hydrological regimes along the Yangtze River, China.Earth and Space Science, 2(4): 94-106.
doi: 10.1002/2014EA000052
[20] Moshe L B, Haviv I, Enzel Y, et al., 2008. Incision of alluvial channels in response to a continuous base level fall: Field characterization, modeling, and validation along the Dead Sea.Geomorphology, 93(3/4): 524-536.
doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.03.014
[21] Shi Yafeng, Zhang Qiang, Chen Zhongyuanet al., 2007. Channel morphology and its impact on flood passage, the Tianjiazhen reach of the middle Yangtze River.Geomorphology, 85(3): 176-184.
doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.03.019
[22] Sun Zhaohua, Huang Ying, Cao Qixinet al., 2015. Spatial and temporal variations of the low flow stage in the immediate downstream reach of the Three Georges Dam.Journal of Basic Science and Engineering, 23(4): 694-704. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.16058/j.issn.1005-0930.2015.04.005
[23] Tang Jinwu, Li Yitian, Sun Zhaohuaet al., 2010. Preliminary study on the changes of water level at Chenglingji station after the impoundment of the Three Gorges Project (TGP).Journal of Basic Science and Engineering, 18(2): 273-280. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1005-0930.2010.02.0010
[24] Wang Houjie, Yang Zousheng, Wang Yanet al., 2008. Reconstruction of sediment flux from the Changjiang (Yangtze River) to the sea since the 1860s.Journal of Hydrology, 349(3/4): 318-332.
doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2007.11.005
[25] Xu Quanxi, 2012. Research on reservoir sedimentation and downstream channel erosion of dam after impoundment of Three Gorges Reservoir.Yangtze River, 43(7): 1-6. (in Chinese)
[26] Xu Quanxi, Yuan Jing, Wu Wenjunet al., 2011. Fluvial processes in middle Yangtze River after impoundment of Three Gorges Project.Journal of Sediment Research, (2): 38-46. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.1002/clc.20818
[27] Xu Quanxi, Zhu Lingling, Yuan Jing, 2013. Research on water-sediment variation and deposition-erosion in middle and lower Yangtze River.Yangtze River, 44(23): 16-21. (in Chinese)
[28] Yang S L, Xu K H, Milliman J Det al., 2015. Decline of Yangtze River water and sediment discharge: Impact from natural and anthropogenic changes.Scientific Reports, (5): 12581.
doi: 10.1038/srep12581 pmid: 26206169
[29] Yang Yunping, Zhang Mingjin, Li Yitianet al., 2016. Suspended sediment recovery and bedsand compensation mechanism affected by the Three Gorges Project.Acta Geographica Sinica, 71(7): 1241-1254. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.11821/dlxb201607012
[30] Yang Yunping, Zhang Mingjin, Sun Zhaohuaet al., 2017a. The relationship between water level change and river channel geometry adjustment in the downstream of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD).Acta Geographica Sinica, 72(5): 776-789. (in Chinese)
doi: 10.11821/dlxb201705002
[31] Yang Yunping, Zhang Mingjin, Zhu Linglinget al., 2017b. Influence of large reservoir operation on water-levels and flows in reaches below dam: Case study of the Three Gorges Reservoir.Scientific Reports, 7(1): 15640.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15677-y pmid: 29142268
[32] Yu Minghui, Duan Wenzhong, Yu Weiqing, 2005. Analysis of river bed change of Yangtze River and flood level variation.Engineering Journal of Wuhan University, 38(3): 1-5, 18. (in Chinese)
[33] Yuan Weihao, Yin Daowei, Finlayson Brianet al., 2012. Assessing the potential for change in the middle Yangtze River channel following impoundment of the Three Gorges Dam.Geomorphology, 147/148(8): 27-34.
doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.06.039
[34] Zhang Man, Zhou Jianjun, Huang Guoxian, 2016. Flood control problems in middle reaches of Yangtze River and countermeasures.Water Resources Protection, 32(4): 1-10. (in Chinese)
[35] Zhang Qiang, Shi Yafeng, Xiong Minget al., 2009. Geometric properties of river cross sections and associated hydrodynamic implications in Wuhan-Jiujiang River reach, the Yangtze River.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 19(1): 58-66.
doi: 10.1007/s11442-009-0058-4
[36] Zhang Wei, Yang Yunping, Zhang Mingjinet al., 2017. Mechanisms of suspended sediment restoration and bed level compensation in downstream reaches of the Three Gorges Projects (TGP).Journal of Geographical Sciences, 27(4): 463-480.
doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1387-3
[37] Zhang Xibing, Lu Jinyou, Li Qiusheng, 2011. Preliminary study on accumulated influence of the bankline use on flood control in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.Resources and Environment in the Yangtze Basin, 20(9): 1138-1142. (in Chinese)
[38] Zheng Shouren, 2015. Risk analysis of implementing middle-small flood dispatch by Three Gorges Project and countermeasures.Yangtze River, 46(5): 7-12. (in Chinese)
[39] Zheng Shouren, 2016. Reflections on the Three Gorges Project since its operation.Engineering, (2): 389-397.
doi: 10.1016/J.ENG.2016.04.002
[40] Zhu Lingling, Chen Jianchi, Yuan Jinget al., 2015. Sediment erosion and deposition in two lakes connected with middle Yangtze River and the impact of Three Gorges Reservoir.Advances in Water Science, 25(3): 348-357. (in Chinese)
[1] SHAN Lijie,ZHANG Liping,SONG Jiyun,ZHANG Yanjun,SHE Dunxian,XIA Jun. Characteristics of dry-wet abrupt alternation events in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin and the relationship with ENSO[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(8): 1039-1058.
[2] WANG Jie,,MEI Xuefei,LOU Yaying,WEI Wen,GE Zhenpeng. Immediately downstream effects of Three Gorges Dam on channel sandbars morphodynamics between Yichang-Chenglingji Reach of the Changjiang River, China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2018, 28(5): 629-646.
[3] ZHANG Wei,YANG Yunping,ZHANG Mingjin,LI Yitian,ZHU Lingling,YOU Xingying,WANG Dong,XU Junfeng. Mechanisms of suspended sediment restoration and bed level compensation in downstream reaches of the Three Gorges Projects (TGP)[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017, 27(4): 463-480.
[4] HAN Jianqiao,ZHANG Wei,FAN Yongyang,YU Mengqing. Interacting effects of multiple factors on the morphological evolution of the meandering reaches downstream the Three Gorges Dam[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017, 27(10): 1268-1278.
[5] CAI Jiaxi, GUAN Zhaoyong, GAO Qingjiu, LIN Xin, QIAN Daili. Summertime temperature variations in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River and their related circulation anomalies in the past five decades[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2010, 20(4): 581-598.
[6] WANG Chuansheng, LI Jianhai, ZHU Lidong. Assessment and exploitation of the waterfront resources in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2003, 13(1): 76-84.
[7] ZHANG Li-ping, ZHU Da-kui, YANG Da-yuan. Chemical element transfer of weathering granite regolith in the Three Gorges Dam region of Yangtze River[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2002, 12(2): 236-242.
Full text



Copyright © Journal of Geographical Sciences, All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Beijing Magtech Co. Ltd