Despite the potential of remote sensing for monitoring reservoir operation, few studies have investigated the extent to which reservoir releases can be inferred across different spatial and temporal scales. Through evaluating 21 reservoirs in the highly regulated Greater Mekong region, remote sensing imagery was found to be useful in estimating daily storage volumes for within-year and over-year reservoirs (correlation coefficients [CC] ≥ 0.9, normalized root mean squared error [NRMSE] ≤ 31%), but not for run-of-river reservoirs (CC < 0.4, 40% ≤ NRMSE ≤ 270%). Given a large gap in the number of reservoirs between global and local databases, the proposed framework can improve representation of existing reservoirs in the global reservoir database and thus human impacts in hydrological models. Adopting an Integrated Reservoir Operation Scheme within a multi-basin model was found to overcome the limitations of remote sensing and improve streamflow prediction at ungauged cascade reservoir systems where previous modeling approaches were unsuccessful. As a result, daily regulated streamflow was predicted competently across all types of reservoirs (median values of CC = 0.65, NRMSE = 8%, and Kling-Gupta efficiency [KGE] = 0.55) and downstream hydrological stations (median values of CC = 0.94, NRMSE = 8%, and KGE = 0.81). The findings are valuable for helping to understand the impacts of reservoirs and dams on streamflow and for developing more useful adaptation measures to extreme events in data sparse river basins.
Keywords: Mekong and Vietnam; multi‐basin model; regulated streamflow; remote sensing imagery; reservoir operation; transboundary.
© 2022. The Authors.