|A review of the integrated effects of changing climate, land use, and dams on Mekong River hydrology
|Pokhrel, Y., M. Burbano, J. Roush, H. Kang, V. Sridhar and D.W. Hyndman
|URL (non-DOI journals):
|Broad Application Category:
|Primary Application Category:
|climate change and land use change
|Secondary Application Category:
|reservoirs, ponds, lakes and/or other impoundment effects
|795,000 km^2 Mekong River, which drains portions of southeast China, eastern Myanmar, northeast Thailand, most of Lao PDR, eastern Vietnam and much of Cambodia.
|This study is a general review of analyses that have been conducted for the Mekong River. It is not focused on SWAT applications specifically but does include some review of one or more SWAT studies that have been performed for the system.
|The ongoing and proposed construction of large-scale hydropower dams in the Mekong
river basin is a subject of intense debate and growing international concern due to the unprecedented
and potentially irreversible impacts these dams are likely to have on the hydrological, agricultural,
and ecological systems across the basin. Studies have shown that some of the dams built in the
tributaries and the main stem of the upper Mekong have already caused basin-wide impacts by
altering the magnitude and seasonality of flows, blocking sediment transport, affecting fisheries
and livelihoods of downstream inhabitants, and changing the flood pulse to the Tonle Sap Lake.
There are hundreds of additional dams planned for the near future that would result in further
changes, potentially causing permanent damage to the highly productive agricultural systems and
fisheries, as well as the riverine and floodplain ecosystems. Several studies have examined the
potential impacts of existing and planned dams but the integrated effects of the dams when combined
with the adverse hydrologic consequences of climate change remain largely unknown. Here, we
provide a detailed review of the existing literature on the changes in climate, land use, and dam
construction and the resulting impacts on hydrological, agricultural, and ecological systems across
the Mekong. The review provides a basis to better understand the effects of climate change and
accelerating human water management activities on the coupled hydrological-agricultural-ecological
systems, and identifies existing challenges to study the region’sWater, Energy, and Food (WEF) nexus
with emphasis on the influence of future dams and projected climate change. In the last section, we
synthesize the results and highlight the urgent need to develop integrated models to holistically study
the coupled natural-human systems across the basin that account for the impacts of climate change
and water infrastructure development. This review provides a framework for future research in the
Mekong, including studies that integrate hydrological, agricultural, and ecological modeling systems.
|Mekong river basin; dams; hydropower; hydrology; climate change