Deriving the Reservoir Conditions for Better Water Resource Management Using Satellite-Based Earth Observations in the Lower Mekong River Basin
Ali, Syed A.
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The Mekong River basin supported a large population and ecosystem with abundant water and nutrient supply. However, the impoundments in the river can substantially alter the flow downstream and its timing. Using limited observations, this study demonstrated an approach to derive dam characteristics, including storage and flow rate, from remote-sensing-based data. Global Reservoir and Lake Monitor (GRLM), River-Lake Hydrology (RLH), and ICESat-GLAS, which generated altimetry from Jason series and inundation areas from Landsat 8, were used to estimate the reservoir surface area and change in storage over time. The inflow simulated by the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) model from 2008 to 2016 and the reservoir storage change were used in the mass balance equation to calculate outflows for three dams in the basin. Estimated reservoir total storage closely resembled the observed data, with a Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency and coefficient of determination more than 0.90 and 0.95, respectively. An average decrease of 55% in outflows was estimated during the wet season and an increase of up to 94% in the dry season for the Lam Pao. The estimated decrease in outflows during the wet season was 70% and 60% for Sirindhorn and Ubol Ratana, respectively, along with a 36% increase in the dry season for Sirindhorn. Basin-wide demand for evapotranspiration, about 935 mm, implicitly matched with the annual water diversion from 1000 to 2300 million m3. From the storage–discharge rating curves, minimum storage was also evident in the monsoon season (June–July), and it reached the highest in November. This study demonstrated the utility of remote sensing products to assess the impacts of dams on flows in the Mekong River basin.