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Characterizing effects of hydropower plants on sub-daily flow regimes
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2017 (English)In: Journal of Hydrology, ISSN 0022-1694, E-ISSN 1879-2707, Vol. 550, 186-200 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A characterization of short-term changes in river flow is essential for understanding the ecological effects of hydropower plants, which operate by turning the turbines on or off to generate electricity following variations in the market demand (i.e., hydropeaking). The goal of our study was to develop an approach for characterizing the effects of hydropower plant operations on within-day flow regimes across multiple dams and rivers. For this aim we first defined ecologically meaningful metrics that provide a full representation of the flow regime at short time scales from free-flowing rivers and rivers exposed to hydropeaking. We then defined metrics that enable quantification of the deviation of the altered short-term flow regime variables from those of the unaltered state. The approach was successfully tested in two rivers in northern Sweden, one free-flowing and another regulated by cascades of hydropower plants, which were additionally classified based on their impact on short-term flows in sites of similar management. The largest differences between study sites corresponded to metrics describing sub-daily flow magnitudes such as amplitude (i.e., difference between the highest and the lowest hourly flows) and rates (i.e., rise and fall rates of hourly flows). They were closely followed by frequency-related metrics accounting for the numbers of within-day hourly flow patterns (i.e., rises, falls and periods of stability of hourly flows). In comparison, between-site differences for the duration-related metrics were smallest. In general, hydropeaking resulted in higher within-day flow amplitudes and rates and more but shorter periods of a similar hourly flow patterns per day. The impacted flow feature and the characteristics of the impact (i.e., intensity and whether the impact increases or decreases whatever is being described by the metric) varied with season. Our approach is useful for catchment management planning, defining environmental flow targets, prioritizing river restoration or dam reoperation efforts and contributing information for relicensing hydropower dams. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 550, 186-200 p.
Keyword [en]
Hydrological alterations, Hydrological characterization, Hydropeaking, Impact assessment, Short-term, Sub-daily flows
National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-138549DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.04.023ISI: 000404816000015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-138549DiVA: diva2:1141463
Available from: 2017-09-14 Created: 2017-09-14 Last updated: 2017-09-14Bibliographically approved

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Bejarano, Maria DoloresAlonso, CarlosNilsson, Christer
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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