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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Aug 2020

10 Aug 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Socio-Hydrologic Modeling of the Dynamics of Cooperation in the Transboundary Lancang-Mekong River

You Lu1, Fuqiang Tian1, Liying Guo1, Iolanda Borzi2, Rupesh Patil3, Jing Wei1, Dengfeng Liu4, Yongping Wei3, David J. Yu5,6, and Murugesu Sivapalan7,8 You Lu et al.
  • 1Department of Hydraulic Engineering, State Key Laboratory of Hydro-science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 2Department of Engineering, University of Messina, Italy
  • 3School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
  • 4State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of China, Xi’an University of Technology, China
  • 5Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
  • 6Department of Political Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
  • 7Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA
  • 8Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

Abstract. The transboundary Lancang-Mekong River Basin has experienced dynamics of cooperation over the past several decades, which is a common emergent response in transboundary human-water systems. Downstream countries rely on Mekong River for fisheries, agriculture, etc., while upstream countries have been constructing dams to generate hydropower. The dam construction and operation in upstream countries have changed the seasonality of streamflow in downstream countries, affecting their economic benefits. More recently, cooperation between upstream and downstream countries has been enhanced throughout the river basin. In this study, we introduce a quantitative socio-hydrological model to simulate hydrological processes, reservoir operations, economic benefits, policy feedbacks and therefore dynamics of cooperation within the Lancang-Mekong River basin. The model reproduces the observed dynamics of cooperation in the basin revealed by sentiment analysis of news articles. Hydrological variability such as droughts and human activities associated with reservoir operations affect dynamics of cooperation between the riparian countries, with importance attached to indirect political benefits of upstream playing an important role in the enhancement of cooperation. In this way, our study generated understanding of emergent cooperation dynamics in this transboundary river basin, and the socio-hydrological model used here provides a useful new framework to investigate and improve transboundary water management elsewhere.

You Lu et al.

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You Lu et al.

You Lu et al.


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