Friday November 4, 2022


The Mekong’s floodplains are a global biodiversity hotspot sustaining one of the world’s largest inland fisheries. However, two decades of hydropower developments have altered the river discharge and impacted the water available to the floodplains. In particular, the flood pulse—the principal driving force of healthy floodplains—is getting shorter and weaker.

A team of scientists from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), University of South Florida and University of Maryland has now shown that there are potential remedies to this situation—coordinating the decisions made by hydropower producers could help mitigate the impact of dams on the flood pulse.

Their findings, titled “Opportunities to curb hydrological alterations via dam re-operation in the Mekong,” were published in Nature Sustainability.

Building on existing high resolution mathematical models of all dams in the Mekong basin, the research team demonstrated that coordinating hydropower production plans across all dams could help maintain the current power production levels while improving the quality of the flood pulse. This could possibly lead to improved hydropower revenues while restoring key components of hydrological variability.

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