29 Nov 2022
29 Nov 2022

Can the combining of wetlands with reservoir operation largely reduce the risk of future flood and droughts?

Yanfeng Wu1, Jingxuan Sun1,2, Boting Hu1,2, Y. Jun Xu3, Alain N. Rousseau4, and Guangxin Zhang1 Yanfeng Wu et al.
  • 1Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun, Jilin 130102, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, 227 Highland Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
  • 4INRS-ETE/Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique - Eau Terre Environnement, 490 rue de la Couronne, G1K 9A9 Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Abstract. Wetlands and reservoirs are important water flow and storage regulators in a river basin; therefore, they can play a crucial role in mitigating flood and hydrological drought risks. Despite the advancement of river basin theory and modeling, our knowledge is still limited about the extent that these two regulators could have in performing such a role, especially under future climate extremes. To improve our understanding, we first developed a framework coupling wetlands and reservoir operations with a semi-spatially explicit hydrological model and then applied it in a case study involving a large river basin in Northeast China. The projection of future floods and hydrological droughts was performed using this framework during different periods (near-future: 2026–2050, mid-century: 2051–2075, and end-century: 2076–2100) under five future climate change scenarios. We found that the risk of future floods and hydrological droughts can vary across different periods, in particular, will experience relatively large increases and slight decreases. This large river basin will experience longer duration, larger peak flows and volume, and enhanced flashiness flood events than the historical period. Simultaneously, the hydrological droughts will be much more frequent with longer duration and more serious deficit. Therefore, the risk of floods and droughts will overall increase further under future climate change even under the combined influence of reservoirs and wetlands. These findings highlight the hydrological regulation function of wetlands and reservoirs and attest that the combining of wetlands with reservoir operation cannot fully eliminate the increasing future flood and drought risks. To improve a river basin’s resilience to the risks under future climate change, we argue that implementation of wetland restoration and development of accurate forecasting systems for effective reservoir operation are of great importance. Furthermore, this study demonstrated a wetland-reservoir integrated modeling and assessment framework that is conducive to risk assessment of floods and hydrological droughts, which can be used for other river basins in the world.

Yanfeng Wu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1103', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Dec 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Guangxin Zhang, 05 Jan 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1103', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Dec 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Guangxin Zhang, 05 Jan 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1103', Anonymous Referee #3, 09 Jan 2023

Yanfeng Wu et al.

Yanfeng Wu et al.


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Short summary
Reservoirs and wetlands are important regulators of watershed hydrology, which should be considered when projecting floods and droughts. We developed a semi-spatially integration modeling framework that coupling wetland modules and reservoir operation into basin hydrological simulation. We applied the framework in a large river basin and found that the risk of future floods and droughts will overall increase further even under the combined influence of reservoirs and wetlands.