The Cryosphere (May 2024)

Assessment of the impact of dam reservoirs on river ice cover – an example from the Carpathians (central Europe)

  • M. Fukś

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18
pp. 2509 – 2529


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This paper presents a method for determining the impact of dam reservoirs on the ice cover of rivers downstream of their locations based on a long measurement period (1950–2020) and synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) data. Two rivers and two sets of dam reservoirs located in the Carpathian Mountains (central Europe) were selected for this study. In order to estimate the influence of reservoirs, a logistic regression model was built to describe the relationship between the course of air temperature and the occurrence of ice cover (i.e., total ice cover and border ice) at water gauge cross sections upstream and downstream of the reservoirs. The influence of reservoirs was then defined as the differences between the number of days with ice cover predicted from air temperature and those observed at the water gauge cross sections. Additionally, the extent of the impact of the reservoirs was estimated based on SAR data (Sentinel-1) by identifying river sections downstream of the reservoirs on which total ice cover did not form despite the persistence of very low air temperatures. The study shows that dam reservoirs play an important role in decreasing the incidence of ice cover on rivers. The occurrence of ice cover as a result of reservoir operations could decrease by over 80 % in the sections immediately downstream of the reservoirs. The impact of the reservoir on river ice cover diminishes as the distance from the reservoir increases. Using SAR data, it was estimated that total ice cover did not form in sections 26–60 km downstream of the reservoirs, despite the presence of favorable thermal conditions. Based on the results of the study presented here, it can be assumed that in areas where many dam reservoirs are located, the ice regime of rivers is significantly transformed, which should be taken into account when studying river ice cover. This study also demonstrates that the logistic regression model and SAR data are useful tools for assessing the impact of dam reservoirs on river ice cover.