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Open Access item Dam effects on droughts magnitude and duration in a transboundary basin: The Lower River Tagus, Spain and Portugal.

Authors:López-Moreno, Juan I.
Vicente Serrano, Sergio M.
Beguería, Santiago
García-Ruiz, José María
Portela, María M.
Almeida, António B
Keywords:droughts, dams, transboundary rivers, transboundary basin, IWRM, SPI, Standardized Precipitation Index, Tagus River
Issue Date:2009
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
Citation:Water Resources Research, 45, W02405.
Abstract:This study examines the effects of a large dam on hydrological droughts in the transboundary Tagus River, central Spain and Portugal. The magnitude and duration of droughts are analyzed by comparing a monthly drought index calculated for the flow series upstream and downstream of the Alcántara Reservoir. The dam was built in 1969, and the reservoir is the second-largest in Europe (3,162 hm3). Water management in the area is complex because of large seasonal and interannual variability in the flow regime, which is characteristic of Mediterranean environments. This paper demonstrates that as a result of exploitation of the Alcántara reservoir: (i) during periods of water scarcity, the releases in winter and spring are reduced dramatically and the magnitude and duration of summer low-flow show a slight increase; and (ii) the nature of droughts along the Tagus River basin downstream of the dam has shown severe changes since construction of the dam. In fact, during the pre-dam period (1943–1969), droughts were longer and more intense in the Spanish part of the basin than in the Portuguese. Since the construction of the Alcántara dam, however, the Portuguese part of the basin has experienced more severe droughts than the upstream part, in terms of both magnitude and duration.
Description:Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union. An edited version of this paper was published by AGU as: López-Moreno, J. I., S. M. Vicente-Serrano, S. Beguería, J. M. García-Ruiz, M. M. Portela, and A. B. Almeida, 2009. Dam effects on droughts magnitude and duration in a transboundary basin: The Lower River Tagus, Spain and Portugal. Water Resources Research, 45, W02405. To view the published open abstract, go to http://dx.doi.org and enter the DOI.
Publisher version (URL):http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008WR007198.shtml
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