Marine Science Faculty Publications

Dramatic Inundation Changes of China’s Two Largest Freshwater Lakes: Natural Process or Influenced by the Three Gorges Dam? A Revisit

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Environmental changes downstream Yangtze River have drawn consistent attention and sometimes debates in the past decades from both the research community and the public, particularly after the construction of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD). A recent example is raised by Song and Ke (SK), (1) who argue that existing data are not sufficient to link the 2003–2009 area shrinkage of the two largest freshwater lakes of China (Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake) to the impoundment of the TGD in 2003, as proposed by Feng et al. (2) (hereafter referred to as Feng (2)). Although we agree that in general it is extremely difficult to prove a causal effect in nature, we certainly disagree with the data interpretation and arguments by SK, thus standing by our original conclusions. Indeed, except for longer time series of water level (derived from satellite altimetry) and precipitation (derived from discrete rain gauges), most arguments by SK are already fully addressed in Feng (2) or in a previous paper specifically focused on Poyang Lake’s inundation (Feng et al., 2012a (3) or Feng (3)). Here we revisit these arguments and our original conclusions through addressing the three major comments of SK.

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Environmental Science & Technology, v. 48, issue 3, p. 2088-2089