You are on page 1of 11

Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Anthropocene
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ancene

Effects of dams on water and sediment delivery to the sea by the


Huanghe (Yellow River): The special role of Water-Sediment
Modulation
Yonggui Yua,b,*, Xuefa Shia, Houjie Wangb, Chengkun Yuec, Shenliang Chend,
Yanguang Liua, Limin Hua, Shuqing Qiaoa
a

Key Lab of Marine Sedimentology and Environmental Geology, the First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, 6 Xianxialing Road,
Qingdao 266061, China
b
College of Marine Geosciences, Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao 266100, China
c
Hydrology and Water Resources Survey of the Huanghe, 172 Dongsan Road, Dongying 257091, China
d
State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshanbei Road, Shanghai 200062, China

A R T I C L E I N F O

A B S T R A C T

Article history:
Received 11 March 2013
Received in revised form 5 March 2014
Accepted 6 March 2014
Available online 14 March 2014

Large dams on the Chinese Huanghe (Yellow River) have altered its water and sediment uxes,
suspended sediment concentration, grain sizes, and inter-annual patterns of water and sediment
delivery to the sea. Sediment entrapment by the Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reserovirs along with
increasing water consumption associated with dam regulation are mainly responsible for curtailed
water and sediment discharges. After Xiaolangdi Reservoir was constructed in 1999, peak ows have
decreased, with low ow (<2000 m3/s) now dominating the Huanghe discharge most of the year. Since
2002, a managed water release system through Xiaolangdi Dam, known as Water-Sediment Modulation
(WSM), has played a vital role in regulating the delivery of material from Huanghe to the sea. The WSM
produces 50% of the annual sediment to the sea, of which 60% derives from scoured coarse sediment
from the riverbed of the lower reaches. The suspended sediment concentration of Huanghe during
operation of the WSM is 17.3 kg/m3, compared with just 6.9 kg/m3 in other times of the year. The WSM
also leads to intense riverbed scouring in the lower reaches, which increases transport capacity and
reduces ood risk. Sediment inlling in the Xiaolangdi Reservoir remains high, however, and riverbed
scouring during the WSM has weakened since 2006. The Huanghe provides an example of management
issues when large dams eventually lose their impoundment.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Huanghe (Yellow River)
Dam
Sediment entrapment
Flow regulation
Water-Sediment Modulation

Introduction
Large rivers deliver substantial amounts of terrestrial sediment,
freshwater, and nutrient to the sea, serving as the major linkage
between the continent and the ocean. Inputs of freshwater and
terrestrial sediments have multiple morphological, physical and
bio-geochemical implications for the coastal environment (Chu
et al., 2006; Raymond et al., 2008; Blum and Roberts, 2009; Wang
et al., 2010; Cui and Li, 2011). Riverine material in a large system is
a complex function of hydrologic variables inuenced by a

* Corresponding author at: Key Lab of Marine Sedimentology and Environmental


Geology, the First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, 6
Xianxialing Road, Qingdao 266061, China. Tel.: +86 532 88961593;
fax: +86 532 88967491.
E-mail address: yuyonggui@o.org.cn (Y. Yonggui).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2014.03.001
2213-3054/ 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

combination of natural and anthropogenic processes over the


watershed (Milliman and Syvitski, 1992), and is thus considered a
valuable indicator of global change. The past several decades have
witnessed varying levels of changes in water and sediment
discharges for large rivers, e.g. the Yangtze in China, the Nile in
Egypt, the Chao Phraya river in Thailand, the Red River in Vietnam,
the Mississippi River and the Columbia River in the United States, in
addition to the Huanghe (Yellow River) in China (Yang et al., 1998;
Peterson et al., 2002; Yang et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2006, 2007;
Meade and Moody, 2010; Naik and Jay, 2011). The ve largest rivers
in East and Southeast Asia (Huanghe, Changjiang (Yangtze River),
Peal, Red and Mekong) now annually deliver only 600  109 kg of
sediment to the ocean, representing a 60% decrease from levels in the
year 1000 BP (Wang et al., 2011), whereas in the Arctic Ocean, an
increase of freshwater delivered by rivers has been observed
(Peterson et al., 2002; Giles et al., 2012). Many studies have
attempted to link these changes to climatic and anthropogenic

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

drivers (Vorosmarty et al., 2000; Syvitski et al., 2005; Wang et al.,


2006, 2007; Walling, 2006; Milliman et al., 2008; Rossi et al., 2009;
Dang et al., 2010; Meade and Moody, 2010), with possibilities as
diverse as changes in basin precipitation, North Atlantic Oscillation
o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), land cover changes,
(NAO), EI Nin
large reservoir impoundment, and water consumption (Peterson
et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2006, 2007; Milliman et al., 2008).
Anthropogenic processes play a signicant role in changing the
movement of riverine material to the sea (Vorosmarty et al., 2003;
Syvitski et al., 2005). This is particularly true for some mid-latitude
rivers (Milliman et al., 2008), where water and sediment discharges
to the sea have altered by an order of magnitude.
Most of the worlds large rivers are dammed to generate
power and regulate ow, in response to growing populations that
have increased the demand for water (Dynesius and Nilsson,
1994; Milliman, 1997; Vorosmarty et al., 2000; Syvitski et al.,
2005; Yang et al., 2006, 2011; Rossi et al., 2009; Dang et al., 2010;
Wang et al., 2011). Large dams and reservoirs commonly reduce
river discharges to the sea (Vorosmarty et al., 1997). A global
estimate reveals that greater than 50% of basin-scale sediment
ux in regulated basins is potentially trapped in articial
impoundments (Vorosmarty et al., 2003). Sedimentation also
typically increases in riverbeds as a result of a loss of energy in
the reduced ow, in addition to the entrapment of materials by
the dams. Additionally, large dams regulate river ows between
wet and dry seasons, for ood-control and water consumption,
which can further lead to signicant reductions in water and
sediment uxes to the sea. In the Nile River, for example,
sediment is sequestrated in Lake Nasser behind the High Dam,
the extensive barrages, and in drainage and irrigation channels
within the lower Nile delta, so that essentially no sediment
reaches Egypts Mediterranean coast (Stanley, 1996; Milliman,
1997). Similarly, the Manwan reservoir in the upper reaches of
Vietnams Mekong River (also known as the Langcangjiang River
in China) have trapped a majority of the rivers sediment load
since its construction in 1993 (Wang et al., 2011).
More impressive has been the constructions of the worlds
largest dams (>100 m in height) in Chinas Changjiang and
Huanghe drainage basins, which are largely responsible for
changing the rivers transport of material to the sea. The Huanghe
once annually contributed 6% of the worlds terrestrial sediment
supply to the global ocean. Now, dramatic changes have occurred,
including a 90% reduction in annual water and sediment ux,
70% loss in suspended sediment concentration, and coarsening
grain sizes (Wang et al., 2011; Yu et al., 2013). These changes

73

induced by humans are so substantial that few large rivers around


the world can match them. Previous work has addressed changes
in the water and sediment delivery to the sea by the Huanghe
(Yang et al., 1998; Xu, 2003; Wang et al., 2006, 2007, 2011; Miao
et al., 2011). Few papers, however, have directly quantied the
effects of individual dams on the Huange. In this paper, we review
the changes on the Huanghe caused by dams and focus on the
effect of individual dams. In particular, we outline the WaterSediment Modulation (WSM) though Xiaolangdi dam in regulating
water and sediment delivery to the sea. Installed in 2002, WSM
was designed to mitigate inlling of sediment behind the
Xiaolangdi dam, and to scour the riverbeds in the lower reaches
of the Huanghe that had been elevated due to sediment
accumulation. The WSM serves as an example of river management for large dams in an era when storage capacity will soon be
lled. Specic research questions therefore focus on: (1) How have
individual dams contributed to the changing water and sediment
delivery by the Huanghe to the sea? (2) To what extent has WSM
succeeded in regulating sediment discharge to the sea?
Hydrologic setting
The Huanghe
The 5464 km-long Huanghe originates from the northern
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and discharges into the Bohai Sea (Fig. 1),
draining an area of 742,400 km2 which covers semi-arid and
semi-humid climatic zones. Its upper reaches (from the headwater to Toudaoguai) drain the northern Qinghai-Tibetan mountains
and provide approximately 60% of the rivers water discharge. The
middle reaches of the Huanghe (from Toudaoguai to Huayuankou)
cross the soil-rich Loess Plateau, where the soils are highly
erodible during rain-storm events. The river gains 90% of its
sediment load during this journey. As the Huanghe enters its
atter lower basin, however, it loses considerable energy for
sediment transport and deposits large amounts of sediment
(primarily coarser-grained) on the riverbed. Moreover, the lower
reaches have few tributaries, further diminishing water ux and
transportation capacity. The heavy sedimentation results in an
elevated riverbed several meters (locally > 10 m) above the
surrounding oodplain. River discharge of the Huanghe is highly
dependent on the monsoon ood season (JulyOctober), which
brings about 60% of the annual precipitation for the drainage
basin. But water discharge is also affected by short-term climatic
oscillations. The lower reaches of the Huanghe experienced no

Fig. 1. Map of the Huanghe drainage basin, with locations of major gauging stations and reservoirs. Notably, the Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi gauging stations are quite near
their dams, about 1300 m downstream. The color scale indicates land elevation in meters (DEM data is available at http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/).

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

74
Table 1
Reservoir information.
Reservoir

Location

Distance from river mouth (km)

Height (m)

Storage (109 m3)

Time of water storage

Operation time

Xiaolangdi
Sanmenxia
Liujiaxia
Longyangxia

Middle Reach
Middle Reach
Upper Reach
Upper Reach

870
1000
3440
3773

160
106
147
178

12.7
9.7
5.7
27.6

1999.10
1960.09
1968.10
1986.10

2000.05
1961.04
1969.03
1987.09

ow or low ow conditions during the 1970s1990s, which was


mainly due to low basin precipitation associated with drought.
The sediment load is also sensitive to human-controlled land use
in its source region, the Loess plateau.
The Huanghes dams
Since the 1960s, more than 20 large reservoirs have been
constructed in the Huanghe and its tributaries to meet demands for
water. In particular, four large dams (Longyangxia, Liujiaxia,
Sanmenxia, Xiaolangdi) on the Huanghe (Fig. 1) each exceeds
100 m in height (Table 1). The four reservoirs have a total
impoundment capacity of 55.7  109 m3, roughly equaling the
rivers annual water discharge. This capacity enables modulation of
the rivers runoff by storing ood water within reservoirs in wet
seasons and releasing it in dry seasons (Wang et al., 2007).
Given the different source regions for Huanghes water and
sediment, the Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs in the lower
middle reaches have major impacts on sediment entrapment. The
upstream reservoirs (Longyangxia and Liujiaxia) play a more
signicant role in modulating runoff. The Xiaolangdi dam (location
shown in Fig. 1) situates at the end of the middle reaches and thus
controls the runoff entering the lower Huanghe (Table 1).

Data and methods


Long-term (19502012) datasets of water and sediment
recorded at gauging stations on the Huanghe (see Fig. 1) allow an
assessment of how dams affect the delivery of material to the sea.
We utilized data for daily-average water discharge, annual water
and sediment discharges, suspended sediment concentration and
grain size of suspended sediment at the main gauging stations
(Table 4), together with data for sediment inlling and impoundment capacity of the Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs. Data for
WSM in 20022013 including controlled water discharge and
suspended sediment concentration, released water and sediment
volume, scoured sediment volume, and water storage (Table 5),
were also incorporated to analyze impacts of the WSM on the
delivery of Huanghe material to the sea. The Yellow River Water
Conservancy Commission (YRCC) provided most of the datasets used
in this study. Other data are obtained from the Yellow River
Sediment Bulletin and River Sediment Bulletin of China, published
by the Ministry of Water Resources, China. Satellite images (HJ-1
CCD) are also used to observe changes of water in the Xiaolangdi
reservoir and the lower reaches before and during operation of the

Water-Sediment Modulation. The HJ-1 CCD satellite data are


available at http://www.cresda.com/n16/index.html.
We calculated the number of days for different daily-average
water discharges recorded at Huayuankou and Lijin stations in
different time periods, to explore the impacts of dams on ow
regulation and control of ood peaks. Given that the Sanmenxia
reservoir has a minor effect on ow regulation, we divided the
study time period 19502011 into four stages: 19501968, 1969
1986, 19871999 and 20002011, corresponding with the
construction of the Longyanxia, Liujiaxia, and Xiaolangdi reservoirs. We also calculate the difference in water discharge at
Huayuankou and Lijin to estimate the water consumption favored
by ow regulation through dams. Cumulative inlling of sediment
in the Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs was computed based
on the sediment inlling data that were released annually from the
Yellow River Sediment Bulletin. Inuence of the WSM on Huanghe
water and sediment transport to the sea was also assessed through
comparison of hydrologic data before and after the operation of the
WSM.
Dam effects on the Huanghe
General effects of dams on the Huanghe include ow regulation,
sediment entrapment, control of peak ows, and changes in
suspended sediment concentration and grain size. We link the
impacts of dams with decreasing Huanghe water and sediment
discharges to the sea. The causes and impacts of decreased
Huanghe water and sediment discharges have been well documented (Yang et al., 1998; Xu, 2003; Wang et al., 2006, 2007, 2010)
and are reviewed below. In addition, we outline the annual WSM,
which has played a signicant role in regulating water and
sediment discharge to the sea since 2002.
Flow regulation
The four large dams on the Huanghe modulate river ow by
storing oodwater in wet seasons and releasing it in dry seasons.
Results of the data analysis reveal that the ratio of average daily
discharge during non-ood seasons to the average daily discharge
during ood seasons at Huayuankou station increases progressively from 34.2% during 19501968 to 67.8% during 20002004
(Table 2). This increase reects the gradually-intensifying ow
regulations. This seasonal ow regulation largely favors water
consumption in non-ood seasons, primarily for farming irrigation. In non-ood season, the difference between average daily
water discharge at Huayuankou and Lijin results mainly from

Table 2
Average daily water discharge recorded at Huayuankou (HYK) and Lijin (LJ) in different time-periods.
Time period

19501968
19691986
19871999
20002011

Daily water discharge (m3/s)


HYK ood
season

HYK non-ood
season

LJ ood
season

LJ non-ood
season

Difference between HYK


and LJ non-ood season

HYK non-ood
season/ood season (%)

2824.2
2180
1224
1151

965.9
812.6
693.3
780.5

2869
1865.7
876.2
908

939.2
570
272
397

26.7
242.6
421.3
383.5

34.2
37.3
56.6
67.8

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

75

Table 3
Statistics of daily water discharge at Huayuankou (HYK) and Lijin (LJ) gauging stations.
Station

Daily discharge (m3/s)

19501968

19691986

19871999

20002011

LJ

>6000
40006000
20004000

155
400
1389

17
187
710

0
14
159

0
0
234

HYK

>6000
40006000
20004000

92
398
1385

44
243
791

5
23
244

0
0
271

Number of days

water consumption loss. This value increased in a step-wise


manner from 26 m3/s in 19501968 to 242 m3/s in 19691986 and
421 m3/s in 19871999, respectively, followed by a slight decrease
of 384 m3/s in 20002011 (Table 2). This pattern can be explained
by increasing water use favored by strengthening runoff regulations.
Control of peak ow
The construction of large dams on the Huanghe has largely
controlled the frequent oods on the lower reaches that are ded by
monsoon rains. Long-term (19502011) observations of daily water
discharge at Lijin reveal that peak ow > 6000 m3/s decreased
dramatically from a total 155 days during 19501968 to 17 days
during 19691986, and vanish completely since 1987 (Table 3). Even
smaller ood peaks (40006000 m3/s) could not be observed after
the construction of Xiaolangdi reservoir in 1999. Since 2000, low
ow (<2000 m3/s) dominates the discharge pattern of the lower
reaches most of the year, and ow >2000 m3/s is mainly
concentrated within the annual WSM (often less than 20 days)
when the released oodwater is conned to <4000 m3/s. Huayuankou station recorded a similar trend, as shown in Table 3. Here, we
select representative years (1954, 1988, 2003) to show the stepwise
drops in the amplitude of ood peaks recorded at Lijin and
Huayuankou over time (Fig. 2). Both the Lijin and Huayuankou
records show a similar pattern, with the amplitudes of ood peaks
dramatically decreasing. At Huayuankou station, pre-dam discharge
levels (19501960) show several ood peaks during the ood
season, with extreme peaks approaching 17,000 m3/s (e.g. 1954,
Fig. 2A). In 1988 smaller ood peaks (<7000 m3/s) could be observed
(Fig. 2B). In 2003 (after Xiaolangdi Reservoir was constructed), ood
peaks >4000 m3/s become non-existent, e.g. in 2003 (Fig. 2C). Since
1950, no catastrophic ooding has occurred in the lower reaches of
the Huanghe, owing to the effect of the dams.
Sediment entrapment
Sediment sequestration is a common problem in many large
reservoirs. This problem is particularly severe for the Huanghe
owing to the high suspended sediment concentration. Spatially,
the Longyangxia and Liujiaxia reservoirs have a minor effect in
trapping sediment, since only a small fraction of the Huanghe
sediment is sourced from its upper reaches. The Liujiaxia and
Longyangxia annually trap only 0.53  108 m3 (average 1968
1997 level) and 0.16  108 m3 (average 19861997 level) of
sediment, respectively (Peng and Chen, 2009). The Sanmenxia and
Xiaolangdi reservoirs in the lower middle reaches have trapped
large amounts of sediment since their operation. The Sanmenxia
Reservoir, in particular, had lost 45.8% of its storage capacity four
years after its construction (Peng and Chen, 2009), a dramatic rate
which was unexpected before its construction.
Since 2002, sediment inlling of the Sanmenxia reservoir
(Fig. 1) was substantially alleviated by practices that release turbid

water through the Water-Sediment Modulation. This regime was


specially designed to mitigate pool inlling and to scour the
hanging riverbed of the lower reaches that had resulted from
progressive sedimentation. The Sanmenxia reservoir has beneted
from this kind of sediment output through human-made
hyperpycnal currents, and the pool has transit from inlling to
output since 2002. By 2012, the Sanmenxia reservoir had trapped
64.11  108 m3 in sediments since its construction in 1960.
Sediment is also trapped behind the Xiaolangdi dam, largely
because of its location at the end of the middle reaches, where the
Huanghe gains a majority of its suspended sediment load. The
Xiaolangdi reservoir traps approximately 84% of the sediment
passing through (Chen et al., 2012a). Sediment inlling in the
reservoir remains high at 2.36  108 m3 per year since 2002, despite
the ushing of part of the entrapped sediments through the annual
WSM. Between 1997 and 2012, up to 21.8% of the Xiaolangdi
reservoir had been lled by sediment. Additional details of the WSM
are discussed in Water-Sediment Modulation section.
Connections between dams and decreased Huanghe material to the
sea
Average annual sediment ux to the sea in the period 2000
2010 was just 1.37  108 t, or 10% of its 1950s level. As shown in
Fig. 8, stepwise decreases in water and sediment discharges
correspond to the construction of the four large reservoirs. This
trend is particularly pronounced after 1968, when Liujiaxia
reservoir was constructed. Construction of each reservoir is
followed by a sharp decrease in water and sediment discharges
to the sea, reecting the effects of water storage and sediment
sequestration. 19602010, an average of 1.72  108 t of sediment
was sequestrated annually in the Sanmenxia reservoir, corresponding to a 27.7% reduction in annual sediment discharge to the
sea. Sediment inlling seems more severe for the Xiaolangdi
reservoir, which annually sequestered up to 3.07  108 t sediments between 2002 and 2010, nearly two times the annual
sediment ux to the sea. These two large reservoirs therefore serve
as important contributors to the loss in Huanghe sediment ux to
the sea. Although a total of 17.6  108 t sediments had been
scoured from the riverbed during 19992009, up to 44  108 t
sediments had been trapped by the Xiaolangdi reservoir.
In comparison, the increasing water consumption favored by
ow regulation seems to play an equally important role in the loss
of sediment and water discharges to the sea (Wang et al., 2006).
Without human intervention, the inter-annual water discharge to
the sea exhibits order of magnitude uctuations with >62% of the
1950s-level annual discharge occurring in ood season. This
pattern, however, is gradually weakened with the construction of
the four large reservoirs. During 20022011, ood season
produced only 56% of the annual water discharge to the sea
(Fig. 3). In part due to ow regulation, water consumption over the
watershed increased from 153.9  108 m3/yr in the 1950s to
422.3  108 m3/yr during 20002005 (Peng and Chen, 2009),

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282


18000
16000

A 8000
Huayuankou station

1954

14000
12000
10000
8000
6000
4000

Daily water discharge (m3/s)

A
Daily Water Discharge (m3/s)

76

2000

Daily Water Discharge (m3/s)

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun Jul Aug Sep


Time Session

Oct

Nov Dec

16000

1988
1988

Huayuankou station

14000
12000
10000
8000
6000

Flood Feaks

4000
2000

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun Jul Aug Sep


Time Session

Oct

1000
Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun Jul Aug Sep


Time session

Oct

Nov Dec

7000

Lijin station

1988

6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug Sep

Oct

Nov Dec

C 8000
Huayuankou station

2003

14000
12000
10000
8000
6000
4000
2000

7000

Lijin station

2003

6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0

Jan

2000

Time session

18000
16000

3000

Nov Dec

Daily water discharge (m3/s)

Daily Water Discharge (m3/s)

4000

Jan

5000

B 8000

18000

Daily water discharge (m3/s)

Jan

1954

6000

0
Jan

Lijin station

7000

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun Jul Aug Sep


Time Session

Oct

Jan

Nov Dec

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun Jul Aug Sep


Time session

Oct

Nov Dec

Fig. 2. Daily water discharge of the Huanghe at Huayuankou and Lijin gauging stations in 1954, 1988, and 2003, showing stepwise decreases in the amplitudes of ood peaks.
At Huayuankou station, pre-dam discharge levels (19501960) show several ood peaks during the ood season, with extreme peaks approaching 17,000 m3/s (e.g. 1954,
A). In 1988 smaller ood peaks (<7000 m3/s) could be observed (B). In 2003 (after Xiaolangdi Reservoir was constructed), ood peaks >4000 m3/s become non-existent, e.g. in
2003 (C). Lijin station shows a similar pattern.

resulting in declining water and sediment discharges to the sea


(Wang et al., 2006, 2007).
Changes in suspended sediment concentration and grain size
Average suspended sediment concentration of the Huanghe
water to the sea during 19501999 approached 25.5 kg/m3 (Wang
et al., 2010). After the construction of the Xiaolangdi reservoir,
however, the dam trapped substantial amounts of coarse sediment. The silt-laden river has become cleaner, and average
suspended sediment concentration of the Huanghe water to the
sea during 20002012 was as low as 8.3 kg/m3, only 32.5% of the
pre-2000 level. The average annual suspended sediment concentration during 20002012 uctuated slightly from 4.4 to 19.2 kg/
m3 (Table 4) a smaller range in comparison with 1050 kg/m3

during 19501999 (Wang et al., 2010). These changes can be


mainly attributed to dam entrapment of sediment.
The elevated riverbed of the lower Huanghe is a result of
successive sedimentation of coarse sediment carried by the river.
The average grain size of surface sediment (collected in 2002)
decreases from Gaocun station to the river mouth (as shown in
Fig. 4A), reecting the sedimentation process in the lower reaches.
Since the beginning of WSM, however, both the suspended
sediment concentration and average grain size increase from
Huayuankou to Lijin, mainly due to intense riverbed scouring.
Therefore, the initiation of WSM in 2002 caused a shift from
sedimentation to erosion in the riverbed of the lower reaches. By
2011, up to 3.9  108 t sediment had been scoured during WSM,
and the riverbed was lowered by 2 m. The scoured material
provides an important source of uvial sediment to the sea. During

Table 4
Average suspended sediment concentration and median grain size at Lijin station during 20002012.
Year
3

Average suspended sediment concentration (kg/m )


Average median grain size (mm)

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

4.57
0.005

4.24
0.029

12.9
0.012

19.2
0.008

13
0.012

9.24
0.018

7.77
0.016

7.21
0.011

5.3
0.012

4.22
0.046

8.66
0.01

5.03
0.021

6.48
0.015

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

77

120

25
Liujiaxia
(1968)

Water discharge (109m3 )

100

Longyangxia
(1986)

Xiaolangdi
(1999)

water discharge
sediment discharge

80

20

Step 1

15

60
WSM operation

Step 2

10

40

Step 3

Sediment discharge (108t)

Sanmenxia
(1960)

20

0
1950

0
1955

1960

1965

1970

1975

1980
Year

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2010

Fig. 3. Annual water and sediment discharges recorded at Lijin station during 19502012.

WSM in 20022010, the scoured sediments provided 60% of the


uvial sediments to the sea, more than those directly released from
the Xiaolangdi reservoir. Moreover, the scoured sediment is mostly
sand, leading to an increase in grain-size for the suspended

sediment from Xiaolangdi to Lijin (see Fig. 4A). Data at Lijin station
reveals that the average grain size of sediment had increased from
an average of 18 mm during 19501999 (Wang et al., 2010), to
24 mm during 20022012 (Table 4).

-3

Median grain-size (10 mm)

180

160

Median grain-size of sediments in the lower Huanghe

140
120
100
80
60
40

Lijin

Gaocun

20
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

450

500

Distance from Gaocun station (km)


18

B
25

Dam
entrappment

Averaged SSC

Median grain-size

16
14

20

12

15

10

Riverbed scouring

10

Average SSC (kg/m3)

Median grain-size (10-3mm)

30

Sanmenxia Xiaolangdi Huayuankou Gaocun


Gauging station

Lijin

Fig. 4. Median grain-size of suspended sediment from Caocun to Lijin sampled before WSM in 2002(A) and average suspended sediment concentration (SSC) and median grain
size at the four hydrologic gauging stations during 20022012 (B).

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

78

Fig. 5. Paired photographs showing the WSM through the Xiaolangdi dam. The right image (B) depicts the sharp contrast between high- and low-turbidity water.
Table 5
Information about the WSM regime during 20022013.
Year

Duration

Discharge
control (m3/s)

Water in
Xiaolangdi
reservoir (108m3)

Released water
from Xiaolangdi
dam (108 m3)

Suspended sediment
concentration control
(kg/m3)

Releasedsediment
(108 t)

Sediment
ux to the
sea (108 t)

Riverbedscoured
sediment (108 t)

2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2007
2008
2009
2010
2010
2010
2011
2012
2013

July 4July 21
September 6September 18
June 19July 13
June 15June 30
June 15July 3
June 19July 7
July 29August 7
June 19July 3
June 19July 8
June 19July 7
July 24August 3
August 11August 21
June 19July 12
June 19July 09
June 19July 10

2600
2400
2700
3500
3700
4000
4000
4000
4000
4000
3000
2600
4000
4000
4270

43.41
56.1
66.5
61.6
68.9
43.53
16.61
40.64
47.02
48.48
8.84
11.39

33.8
30

26.06
18.1
44.6
38.0
54.97
39.72
17.32
42.8
50.0
39.48

49.19
56.4
57

20
30
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
40

0.32
0.733
0.044
0.023
0.084
0.261
0.459
0.476
0.037
0.261
0.487
0.527
0.35
0.78

0.664
1.207
0.697
0.613
0.648
0.524
0.449
0.598
0.345
0.701
0.311
0.434
0.412

0.362
0.456
0.665
0.647
0.601
0.288
0.300
0.201
0.3429
0.242
0.101
0.118

This combined effect of sediment entrapment and riverbed


scouring is depicted in Fig. 4B. Trapping by the Xiaolangdi dam
leads to signicantly-decreased suspended sediment concentration of the water entering the lower reaches, whereas average
suspended sediment concentration and grain size increase in a
stepwise fashion owing to scouring of the riverbed during the
journey from Xiaolangdi to the sea, as shown in Fig. 4B.

ranges from 18.1  108 m3 to 57  108 m3. This volume often


necessitates water transfers from other reservoirs such as
Sanmenxia and some tributary reservoirs. Satellite images show
an example of water and sediment transfers from the Sanmenxia

Water-Sediment Modulation
The transport of sediment through river channels has major
consequences for public safety, management of water resources,
and environmental sustainability (Frey and Church, 2009). Severe
inlling of sediment behind dams and the elevated riverbed of the
lower reaches are among the major environmental problems for
the sediment-lled Huanghe. To mitigate further inlling of
sediment, and to scour the elevated river-bed, the Yellow River
Conservancy Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources has
performed WSM annually through the Xiaolangdi Dam since 2002
(Fig. 5). WSM releases the stored water in the Xiaolangdi reservoir
to carry trapped sediment to the lower reaches. This process also
scours the elevated riverbed. The WSM typically uses articial
hyperpycnal ow to facilitate sediment removal from the
Xiaolangdi reservoir. WSM often transfers substantial amounts
of water and sediment between large reservoirs in both the main
river stem and its tributaries. Table 5 lists key information about
WSM regimes during 20022011. Although executed typically
once a year, WSM was performed twice in 2007 and three times in
2010. Moreover, WSM can be performed either before or during the
ood season, with durations of 824 days. The volume of scoured
sediment varies greatly in response to different releasing practices.
And the suspended sediment concentration is controlled lower
than 40 kg/m3.
Information about the WSM regime during 20022013. The
volume of water released from the Xiaolangdi dam through WSM

Fig. 6. Paried HJ-1 CCD images showing the changes of the Xiaolangdi reservoir
before and during operation of the WSM in 2009. The right image shows large
amounts of sediment was delivered to the Xiaolangdi reservoir from the upper
Sanmenxia reservoir.

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

79

dam to the Xiaolangdi dam during operation of the WSM in 2009


(Fig. 6). During the WSM period, large amounts of water are
released from the Xiaolangdi dam at a high velocity (2400
4270 m3/s). The released oodwaters scour the sandy riverbed in
the lower reaches, making the water more turbid. Turbid water
owing in the lower Huanghe during WSM is also shown in the
satellite-derived images (Fig. 7).
As shown in Table 5, an average of 4.04  106 tons of sediment
can be delivered to the sea every day over a short period when
WSM is in operation. This high sediment input leads to abrupt
increases in the extent of the sediment plume at the Huanghe river
mouth, as shown in Fig. 8. The two images on the right in Fig. 8
depict the sharp increases in the extent of the sediment plume
during WSM in 2009 and 2012. These increases contrast with the
minor plume before WSM, when low runoff was discharged into
the sea. Since 2008, part of the WSM water has been diverted to the
deltas wetlands, which have been degrading due to depletion of
freshwater nutrient. As shown in Fig. 8, the dried wetlands near the
river mouth were irrigated by the freshwater diverted from the
stream-ow during WSM.

Discussion

Fig. 7. Paired HJ-1 CCD images showing the comparison of the ows in the lower
reaches before and during the WSM. The right image shows more water discharge is
owing in the river channel. The ow becomes more turbid owing to the released
sediment-laden ood-water and intense scouring of the riverbed.

Construction of the four large dams has resulted in a new


discharge regime for the Huanghe which features curtailed water
and sediment uxes to the sea, changes in inter-annual distributions, smaller ood peaks, decreasing suspended sediment
concentration and coarsening grain sizes. Since the construction
of the Xiaolangdi reservoir in 1999, the WSM has become the most
dominant signal for the Huanghe. Here, we focus on the special role

Fig. 8. Combined HJ-1 CCD images showing comparison of sediment plumes at the Huanghe river mouth before and during WSM in 2009 and 2012.

80

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

of the WSM in regulating the delivery of Huanghe material to the


sea.
WSM-controlled delivery of Huanghe material to the Sea
The natural boundary between ood and non-ood seasons has
been altered by the Xiaolangdi dam (Yang et al., 2008), although
the monsoon still brings a majority of annual basin precipitation in
the ood season. Instead, the annual WSM has become a humanmade high-water period for the lower Huanghe. The WSM,
despite its short duration, plays a vital role in delivering Huanghe
water and sediment to the sea. The durations of WSM in 2002
2011 averaged 20 days every year, yet provided 27.6% and 48.9%
of the annual water and sediment delivery to the sea, respectively.
Notably, the WSM releases only 27.6% of the annual water
discharge, yet the released water can carry 48.9% of the annual
sediment ux to the sea. Moreover, the average suspended
sediment concentration of Huanghe water during WSM was as
high as 17.3 kg/m3, much higher than an average of 6.9 kg/m3 in
other times of the year. The WSM has therefore become a dominant
regime controlling the suspended sediment concentration, grain
size, water and sediment uxes to the sea.
Changing WSM regimes and implications for Huanghe material to the
sea
Although WSM has been regularly performed over the past
decade, its regime was often modied, given its both positive and
negative impacts on inlling of sediment in the Xiaolangdi
reservoir, riverbed morphology, geological processes at the river
mouth, and biological responses of the coastal environment. The
timing and duration of these WSM-controlled high ows are
irregular (Table 5). In 2005, for instance, WSM lasted 15 days and
produced only 0.61  108 t sediment (31.9% of the annual ux)
delivered to the sea. In 2010, WSM was performed three times with
a total duration of 38 days, resulting in the transport of up to
1.45  108 t sediment and 90.7  108 m3 water to the sea, which
accounted for 86.8% and 47% of the annual ux to the sea,
respectively. It is clear that the WSM regime is a major control on
the annual water and sediment uxes to the sea.
Another uncertainty lies in the scouring of river-bed in the
lower Huanghe, a complex process involving river ow, bed
features, and human-interventions. Riverbed scouring provided an
important source for the sediment ux to the sea, but relied heavily
on the released oodwater from the Xiaolangdi dam. Sediment
transport varies more than linearly with ow (Naik and Jay, 2011).
This is also true for the Huanghe when WSM was performed. In
2004, the Xiaolangdi dam released 44.6  108 m3 of water during
WSM, and 0.665  108 t of sediments were scoured. In 2009,
however, the released 50  108 m3 of freshwater only scoured
0.343  108 t of sediment. During 20022004, water discharge
released from the Xiaolangdi dam was controlled <3000 m3/s.
With increasing transport capacity favored by channel-scouring,
this value increased to 4000 m3/s during 20052012, and peaked
to 4270 m3/s in 2013 WSM. No linear relation, however, could be
extracted between the released water discharge and ux of
scoured sediment. In short, changing WSM regimes cause the ux
of Huanghe material to the sea to be irregular.
Water consumption in the lower basin during WSM is an
important factor inuencing transport of water and sediment in
the lower reaches. A considerable part of released water from the
Xiaolangdi dam during WSM was diverted for irrigation of
farmland and wetland (shown in Fig. 6). Since 2006, the scouring
effect during WSM has been decreasing (shown in Table 5),
primarily due to the coarsening sediment in the riverbed and water
consumption (Chen et al., 2012b).

The Huanghes future


The history of the Huanghe is a story of frequent diversions and
catastrophic oods. The central conundrum for the Huanghe is
sediment. As discussed above, the construction of the four large
dams has had a positive effect on ood control and riverbed
morphology in the lower reaches. Sediment inlling in the
Sanmenxia reservoir has been alleviated through the WSM, and
7.15  108 m3 (7.4% of impoundment capacity) of sediment was
ushed during 20022010. WSM can also temporally mitigate the
rapid inlling of sediment in the Xiaolangdi reservoir, yet it is still
losing its impoundment capacity at a high rate. The net effect is
that sediment in the Sanmenxia reservoir was transferred to the
Xiaolangdi reservoir, but only a small fraction of the sediment
could be delivered to the lower reaches. The so-called triumph of
Xiaolangdi dam in ood control and river-bed scouring comes at
the cost of rapid inlling of sediment behind the Xiaolangdi dam.
When projected to the future, a central problem will be nding a
location for sediment when the Xiaolangdi reservoir eventually
loses its impoundment capacity.
In addition, successive riverbed scouring had increased the
transport capacity of the lower Huanghe from 1880 m3/s in 2002 to
 4100 m3/s in 2012, which greatly reduces ood risk in the lower
basin. The scouring capacity has been weekend gradually since
2006 by the coarsening riverbed sediment, however, because the
ner sediment has been preferentially transported downstream
(Chen et al., 2012b). The possibility does exist that sediment again
begins to accumulate in the riverbed of lower reaches, as it did
before the construction of the Xiaolangdi dam. Because the
riverbed of the lower reaches was either a sink or a source for the
Huanghe sediment in history. The recent changes in riverbed
scouring imply that the Huanghe sediment delivery to the sea will
also change correspondingly.
Implications for the worlds large rivers
The Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs on the Huanghe
provide prime examples of sediment entrapment behind dams.
Large dams in the world also trap sediment at varying levels.
For the Pearl River in China, the total deposition rate in the
reservoirs had reached 600 Mt/yr during 20002005, one order
of magnitude higher than the annual sediment ux to the sea
(40 Mt/yr) (Dai et al., 2008). In South Asia, more than 80% of
water and sediment discharges from the Indus River have been
diverted by large reservoirs and ow diversion (Giosan et al.,
2006). In the Red River basin, the HoaBinh dam constructed in
1989 is estimated to be responsible for the 50% decline in
annual sediment delivery to the delta (Dang et al., 2010).
During the four years (20032006) after Three Gorges Dam
impoundment, 60% of sediment entering the Three Gorges
Reservoir was trapped. The Manwan Reservoir in the upper
reaches trapped substantial amount of Mekongs sediment
since most of its sediment derives from its upper reaches. The
sediment load at Gajiu station, located 2 km downstream from
the reservoir, is only one-third of the pre-dam level (Wang
et al., 2011).
In comparison with other worlds large dams, the Xiaolangdi
dam not only regulates river ow, but also manages the rivers
sediment. The WSM through Xiaolangdi dam has temporally
mitigated the inlling of sediment in reservoirs and scoured the
riverbed. New problems, however, has arisen that the Xiaolangdi
reservoir is losing its impoundment capacity at high rate and the
riverbed scouring in the lower reaches has weakened since 2006.
The managed WSM therefore may not be a long-term solution for
sediment-laden rivers that are troubled by sediment-associated
problems.

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

Environmental problems of river damming


The discharge regime of the Huanghe has deviated greatly from
its natural condition due to the multiple dam effects. The damtriggered changes in Huanghe water and sediment delivery to the
sea have caused a series of environmental problems. These
problems include a shrinking delta plain due to sedimentstarvation, altered ecological environments and nutrient concentrations in coastal waters, and a transition in plume processes at
the river mouth (Chu et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2010; Yu et al., 2013).
The Huanghe delta plain has been shrinking, in response to the
curtailed sediment supply (Chu et al., 2006). Many deltas in the
world are also shrinking due to dam-triggered sediment reduction
(Chu et al., 2006; Nageswara Rao et al., 2012). The drowning of the
Mississippi delta is ascribed primarily to insufcient sediment
supply (Blum and Roberts, 2009), which is largely due to
construction of dams in the Mississippi Basin. And the current
sediment ux is incapable to sustain the delta plain, even if the
diversion plan of the Mississippi River could be performed (Kim
et al., 2009; Allison and Meselhe, 2010). Dams on the Colorado and
Nile River, together with extensive downstream irrigation systems,
have resulted in almost total elimination of riverine sediment
delivery to the coastal regions. As a result, the Colorado and Nile
deltas are actively receding due to sediment decit (Stanley, 1996;
Carriquiry et al., 2001). In the Yangtze basin, the construction of the
Three Gorges Dam has been linked to erosion of the Yangtzes
subaqueous delta. And the delta will continue to shrink due to
sediment-decit as new large dams are built (Yang et al., 2011).
The dam-related processes have also altered the transport of
Huanghe material to the sea. The annual WSM scheme has
imposed an extreme disturbance on the transport pattern of
Huanghe organic carbon, silicon, and phosphorus (He et al., 2010).
During the 20032009 WSM, large proportions of the annual
dissolved organic carbon (35%) and particulate organic carbon
(56%) were transported to the sea. This dam-controlled input of
organic carbon has a series of potential impacts on the
biogeochemical processes at the river mouth and its ambient
sea (Zhang et al., 2013). Similarly for the Danube River, dissolved
silicate load of the river had been reduced by about two thirds since
dam constructions in early 1970s, which resulted in a series of
environmental problems in the Black Sea (Humborg et al., 1997).
The construction of Three Gorges Dam has potential impacts on the
ecosystem in the Yangtze estuary and coastal waters where
eutrophication and harmful algal bloom frequently occur. The
Yangtze River is estimated to lose a considerable proportion of its
annual nutrient (in particular phosphorous and silicon) ux to the
sea (Wang and Uwe, 2008), primarily due to dam-related
processes. For the Mekong River, the trapping of nutrient-rich
sediment by dams would potentially lead to decline in agricultural
productivity and loss of agriculture land in the Mekong river delta.
The damming of large rivers has therefore received both
positive and negative feedbacks. As stated by Milliman (1997),
river damming is a double-edge sword.

Conclusions
The four large dams on the Chinese Huanghe have altered its
water and sediment uxes, suspended sediment concentration,
grain sizes, and inter-annual patterns of water and sediment
delivery to the sea. In detail, the dam effects on the Huanghe can be
summarized as follows:
(1) The four large dams modulate the river ow between wet and
dry seasons. Flow regulations lead to increases in water
consumption over the watershed, a dominant cause for

81

decreasing Huanghe material to the sea. Huanghe water


discharge to the sea now relies heavily on Xiaolangdi releasing
practices.
(2) The Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs trap substantial
amounts of sediment, serving as important contributors to the
reduced Huanghe sediment ux to the sea.
(3) After the Xiaolangdi reservoir was constructed in 1999, peak
ows have decreased with low ow (<2000 m3/s) now
dominating the Huanghe discharge most of the year.
(4) The annual WSM regime plays a dominant role in delivering
Huanghe material to the sea. The durations of WSM during
20022010 averaged 20 days per year, yet produced 27.6%
and 48.9% of the annual water and sediment delivery to the sea,
respectively. WSM has become a human-made high-water
period for the lower Huanhge, but its regimes is routinely
altered, making the delivery of Huanghe material to the sea
irregular.

Damming of the Huanghe has received both positive and


negative feedbacks. Inlling of sediment behind the Xiaolangdi
dam remains high and riverbed scouring began to weaken after
2006. It will be a big problem nding a location for the sediment
when of the Xiaolangdi reservoir eventually loses its impoundment capacity. The Huanghe provides an example of management
issues when large dams eventually lose their impoundment
capacity.
Acknowledgements
This study is jointly funded by the Youth Foundation of State
Oceania Administration, China (No. 2010309) and the National
Special Research Fund for Non-Prot Sector (No. 200805063 and
No. 201205001). We gratefully appreciate the chief editor and the
anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments which improved
the manuscript. Special appreciation is extended to YRCC (Yellow
River Conservancy Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources,
China) for providing the data of the Huanghe water and sediment,
and to the China Center for Resources Satellite Data and
Application for providing HJ satellite images for this study.
Appreciation is also extended to Dr. Stephanie from Colorado
University at Boulder, for her help in rening the language usage.
References
Allison, M.A., Meselhe, E.A., 2010. The use of large water and sediment diversions in
the lower Mississippi River (Louisiana) for coastal restoration. J. Hydrol. 387,
346360.
Blum, M.D., Roberts, H.H., 2009. Drowning of the Mississippi Delta due to insufcient sediment supply and global sea-level rise. Nat. Geosci. 2, 488491.
Carriquiry, J.D., Sanchez, A., Camacho-Ibar, V.F., 2001. Sedimentation in the northern Gulf of California after cessation of the Colorado River discharge. Sediment.
Geol. 144 (12) 3762.
Chen, J.G., Zhou, W.H., Chen, Q., 2012a. Considerations on Water-Sediment Regulation in later sediment retaining stage of Xiaolangdi Reservoir. Yellow River 34
(5) 13 (in Chinese with English abstract).
Chen, Y.Z., Syvitski, J.P.M., Gao, S., Overeem, I., Kettner, A.J., 2012b. Socio-economic
impacts on ooding: a 4000-year history of the Yellow River, China. Ambio 41,
682698.
Chu, Z.X., Sun, X.G., Zhai, S.K., Xu, K.H., 2006. Changing pattern of accretion/erosion
of the modern Yellow River (Huanghe) subaerial delta, China: based on remote
sensing images. Mar. Geol. 227, 1330.
Cui, B.L., Li, X.Y., 2011. Coastline change of the Yellow River estuary and its response
to the sediment and runoff (19762005). Geomorphology 127, 3240.
Dai, S.B., Yang, S.L., Cai, A.M., 2008. Impacts of dams on the sediment ux of the Pearl
River, southern China. Catena 76, 3643.
Dang, T.H., Coynel, A., Orange, D., Blance, G., Etcheber, H., Le, L.A., 2010. Long-term
monitoring (19602008) of the river-sediment transport in the Red River
Watershed (Vietnam): temporal variability and dam-reservoir impact. Sci. Total
Environ. 408, 46544664.
Dynesius, M., Nilsson, C., 1994. Fragmentation and ow regulation of river systems
in the Northern Third of the World. Science 266, 753762.
Frey, P., Church, M., 2009. How river beds move? Science 325, 15091510.

82

Y. Yonggui et al. / Anthropocene 3 (2013) 7282

Giles, K.A., Laxon, S.W., Ridout, A.L., Wingham, D.J., Bacon, S., 2012. Western Arctic
Ocean freshwater storage increased by wind-driven spin-up of the Beaufor
Gyre. Nat. Geosci. 5, 194197.
Giosan, L., Constantinescu, S., Clift, P.D., Tabrez, A.R., Danish, M., Inam, A., 2006.
Recent morphodynamics of the Indus delta shore and shelf. Cont. Shelf Res. 26
(14) 16681684.
He, H.J., Yu, Z.G., Yao, Q.Z., Chen, H.T., Mi, T.Z., 2010. The hydrological regime and
particulate size control phosphorus form in the suspended solid fraction in the
dammed Huanghe (Yellow River). Hydrobiologia 638, 203211.
Humborg, C., Ittekkot, V., Cociasu, A., Boungen, B.v., 1997. Effects of Danube River
dam on Black Sea biogeochemistry and ecosystem structure. Nature 386, 385
388.
Kim, W., Mohrig, D., Twilley, R., Paola, C., Parker, G., 2009. Is it feasible to build new
land in the Mississippi River Delta? EOS 90 (42) 373374.
Meade, R.H., Moody, J.A., 2010. Causes for the decline of suspended-sediment
discharge in the Mississippi River system, 19402007. Hydrol. Processes 24,
3549.
Miao, C.Y., Ni, J.R., Borthwick, A.G.L., Yang, L., 2011. A preliminary estimate of human
and natural contributions to the changes in water discharge and sediment load
in the Yellow River. Global Planet. Change 76, 196205.
Milliman, J.D., 1997. Blessed dams or damned dams? Nature 386, 325326.
Milliman, J.D., Syvitski, J.P.M., 1992. Geomorphic/tectonic control of sediment
discharge to the oceans: the importance of small mountainous rivers. J. Geol.
100, 525544.
Milliman, J.D., Farnsworth, K.L., Jones, P.D., Xu, K.H., Smith, L.C., 2008. Climate and
anthropogenic factors affecting river discharge to the global ocean, 19512000.
Global Planet. Change 62, 187194.
Nageswara Rao, K., Saito, Y., Nagakumar, K.Ch.V., et al., 2012. Holocene environmental changes of the Godavari Delta, east coast of India, inferred from
sediment core analyses and AMS 14C dating. Geomorphology 175176, 163
175.
Naik, P.K., Jay, D.A., 2011. Distinguishing human and climate inuences on the
Columbia River: changes in mean ow and sediment transport. J. Hydrol. 404,
259277.
Peng, J., Chen, S.L., 2009. The variation process and sediment and its effect on the
Yellow River Delta over the six decades. Acta Geograph. Sin. 64 (11) 13531362
(in Chinese with English abstract).
Peterson, B.J., Holmes, R.M., McClelland, J.W., Vorosmarty, C.J., Lammers, R.B.,
Shiklomanov, A.I., Shiklomanov, I.A., Rahmstorf, S., 2002. Increasing river
discharge to the arctic ocean. Science 298, 21712173.
Raymond, P.A., Oh, N.H., Turner, R.E., Broussard, W., 2008. Anthropogenically
enhanced uxes of water and carbon from the Mississippi River. Nature 45,
449452.
Rossi, A., Massei, N., Laignel, B., Sebag, D., Copard, Y., 2009. The response of the
Mississippi River to climate uctuations and reservoir construction as indicated
by wavelet analysis of stream ow and suspended-sediment load, 19501975. J.
Hydrol. 377, 237244.
Stanley, D.J., 1996. Nile delta: extreme case of sediment entrapment on a delta plain
and consequent coastal land loss. Mar. Geol. 129, 189195.

Syvitski, J.P.M., Vorosmarty, C.J., Kettner, A.J., Green, P., 2005. Impact of humans on
the ux of terrestrial sediment to the global coastal ocean. Science 308, 376
380.
Vorosmarty, C.J., Sharma, K.P., Fekete, B.M., Copeland, A.H., Holden, J., Marble, J.,
Lough, J.A., 1997. The storage and aging of continental runoff in large reservoir
systems of the world. Ambio 26, 210219.
Vorosmarty, C.J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., Lammers, R.B., 2000. Global water
resources: vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science
289, 284288.
Vorosmarty, C.J., Meybeck, M., Fekete, B., Sharma, K., Green, P., Syvitski, J.P.M., 2003.
Anthropogenic sediment retention: major global impact from registered river
impoundments. Global Planet. Change 39, 169190.
Walling, D.E., 2006. Human impact on land-ocean sediment transfer by the worlds
rivers. Geomorphology 79, 192216.
Wang, B.D., Uwe, B., 2008. Potential impacts of three gorges Dam in China on the
ecosystem of East China Sea. Acta Oceanol. Sin. 27 (1) 6776.
Wang, H.J., Yang, Z.S., Saito, Y., Liu, J.P., Sun, X.X., 2006. Interannual and seasonal
variation of the Huanghe (Yellow River) water discharge over the past 50 years:
connections to impacts from ENSO events and dams. Global Planet. Change 50,
212225.
Wang, H.J., Yang, Z.S., Saito, Y., Liu, J.P., Sun, X.X., Wang, Y., 2007. Stepwise decreases
of the Huanghe (Yellow River) sediment load (19502005): impacts of climate
change and human activities. Global Planet. Change 57, 331354.
Wang, H.J., Bi, N.S., Saito, Y., Wang, Y., Sun, X.X., Zhang, J., Yang, Z.S., 2010. Recent
changes in sediment delivery by the Huanghe (Yellow River) to the sea: causes
and environmental implications in its estuary. J. Hydrol. 391, 302313.
Wang, H.J., Saito, Y., Zhang, Y., Bi, N.S., Sun, X.X., Yang, Z.S., 2011. Recent changes of
sediment ux to the western Pacic Ocean from major rivers in East and
Southeast Asia. Earth Sci. Rev. 108, 80100.
Xu, J.X., 2003. Sediment ux into the sea as inuenced by the changing human
activities and precipitation: example of the Huanghe River, China. Acta Oceanol.
Sin. 25 (5) 125135.
Yang, Z.S., Milliman, J.D., Galler, J., Liu, J.P., Sun, X.G., 1998. Yellow Rivers water and
sediment discharge decreasing steadily. EOS, Trans. AGU 79, 589592.
Yang, Z., Wang, H., Saito, Y., Milliman, J.D., Xu, K., Qiao, S., Shi, G., 2006. Dam impacts
on the Changjiang (Yangtze) River sediment discharge to the sea: the past 55
years and after the Three Gorges Dam. Water Resour. Res. 42, W04407, http://
dx.doi.org/10.1029/2005WR003970.
Yang, Z.S., Li, G.G., Wang, H.J., Hu, B.Q., Cheng, Y.J., 2008. Variation of daily water and
sediment discharge in the Yellow River reaches in the past 55 years and its
response to the dam operation on its main stream. Mar. Geol. Quat. Geol. 28 (6)
918 (in Chinese with English abstract).
Yang, S.L., Milliman, J.D., Li, P., Xu, K.H., 2011. 50,000 dams later: erosion of the
Yangtze River and its delta. Global Planet. Change 75, 1420.
Yu, Y.G., Wang, H.J., Shi, X.F., Ran, X.B., Cui, T.W., Qiao, S.Q., Liu, Y.G., 2013.
New discharge regime of the Huanghe (Yellow River): causes and implications.
Cont. Shelf Res. 69, 6272.
Zhang, L.J., Wang, L., Cai, W.J., Liu, D.M., Yu, Z.G., 2013. Import of human activities on
organic carbon transport in the Yellow River. Biogeosciences 10, 25132524.