In recent years, water shortage is becoming one of the most serious problems in the Poyang Lake. In this paper, the long-term water balance items of the Poyang Lake have been analyzed to reveal the coupling effects of Three Gorges Dam (TGD) and droughts on the water balance of Poyang Lake. The results indicate that: (1) the water balance items of Poyang Lake vary greatly, e.g. lake precipitation and inflow decrease during the past several decades while evaporation and water consumption increase significantly; (2) the water balance of Poyang Lake has been affected by the operation of TGD. Negative lake water balance in recent years leads to a serious water shortage problem in the Poyang Lake. Moreover, the operation of TGD also changed the river–lake relationship in the lower Yangtze River basin; (3) the coupling effects of drought and TGD on the lake water balance has been analyzed by using composite analysis method and it can be found that the operation of TGD has significantly altered the lake water balance. But it is not the only factor that affects the lake water balance, and the droughts might cause their relations to be much more complicated.
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