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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Analyzing the Local Climate Impacts due to the Three Gorges Dam

  • Author(s): Miller, Norman L.
  • Jin, J.
  • He, Y.
  • Tsang, C.-F.
  • et al.

Two simulations, control and land use change, were performed for an eight week period (2 April 16 May 1990) to determine the net sensitivity of the local climate around the Three Gorges Dam. The analysis indicates that the large reservoir acts as a potential evaporating surface that decreases the surface temperature, cools the lower atmosphere, decreasing upward motion, and increasing sinking air mass. Such sinking results in low level moisture divergence, decreasing cloudiness, and increasing net downward radiation, which increases the surface temperature. However, results indicate that evaporative cooling dominates radiative warming in this initial study. The strong evaporation also supplies moisture to the atmosphere, suggesting an increase in precipitation, but the sinking moist air diverges away from the TGD region with no net change in precipitation. This numerical study represents an initial methodology for quantification of the impact of the Three Gorges Damon the local climate and a more comprehensive, fine-scale set of multi-season simulations with additional observational data is needed for a more complete analysis.

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