The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Spatio-Temporal Scales of Hydrological Impact Assessment in Large River Basins: The Mekong Case

Matti Kummu

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture for public examination and debate in Auditorium R1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 12th of December, 2008, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9666-8)   [6457 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9665-1)


River alterations, being either natural or anthropogenic, have impacted the environment and riverine communities, and nature, throughout human history. During the last two centuries, the scale of the anthropogenic impacts has expanded significantly as a result of larger water resources related projects. Numerous human activities have consequences for the environment measured along multiple scales and levels. The multiscale/-level nature of the problems related to the impact assessment discipline requires that researchers address key issues of scales and levels in their analyses.

The thesis aims to present the spatio-temporal scales of the hydrological impact assessment (HIA) process in a large river basin context and analyse how the scales should be taken into account when conducting the assessment. A special focus is on the data and methodologies used within the HIA. The levels of this work are hydrology, hydrodynamics and sediment transport, forming the sub-disciplines of the HIA. The geographical focus is the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia where HIA is presented at different scales through seven case studies, based on the appended papers. The Mekong is facing rapid development activities and in this work their consequences on the above-mentioned levels have been analysed and discussed at different scales.

Scales are particularly important when a) identifying the critical processes and areas of possible consequences, b) selecting the spatio-temporal scales of the assessment, c) identifying the data needed and available, d) selecting the methodologies and tools related to the process, and e) presenting the results of the assessment to the decision-makers and planners. The thesis concludes that, instead of down-/up-scaling, a multiscale approach often appears to be a more preferable solution. A more extensive inclusion of scale issues in the impact assessment process is believed to contribute to building a more profound connection between researchers and decisions makers.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 7 publications:

  1. Matti Kummu, Olli Varis, and Juha Sarkkula. 2008. Impacts of land surface changes on regional hydrology – Mainland Southeast Asia. In: Lebel, L., Snidvongs, A., Chen, C.-T. A., and Daniel, R. (editors). A common need for action: Global environmental change and development in monsoon Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Gerakbudaya. In press, 17 pages.
  2. Matti Kummu and Olli Varis. 2007. Sediment-related impacts due to upstream reservoir trapping, the Lower Mekong River. Geomorphology, volume 85, numbers 3-4, pages 275-293. © 2006 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  3. Matti Kummu, Juha Sarkkula, Jorma Koponen, and Jussi Nikula. 2006. Ecosystem management of the Tonle Sap Lake: an integrated modelling approach. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 22, number 3, pages 497-519.
  4. Matti Kummu and Juha Sarkkula. 2008. Impact of the Mekong River flow alteration on the Tonle Sap flood pulse. Ambio, volume 37, number 3, pages 185-192.
  5. Matti Kummu, Dan Penny, Juha Sarkkula, and Jorma Koponen. 2008. Sediment: curse or blessing for Tonle Sap Lake? Ambio, volume 37, number 3, pages 158-163.
  6. Matti Kummu. 2009. Water management in Angkor: Human impacts on hydrology and sediment transportation. Journal of Environmental Management, volume 90, number 3, pages 1413-1421. © 2008 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  7. Matti Kummu, X. X. Lu, Akchousanh Rasphone, Juha Sarkkula, and Jorma Koponen. 2008. Riverbank changes along the Mekong River: Remote sensing detection in the Vientiane–Nong Khai area. Quaternary International, volume 186, number 1, pages 100-112. © 2007 Elsevier Science. By permission.

Keywords: hydrological impact assessment, hydrology, hydrodynamics, sediment transport, scale, spatio-temporal scale, large river basin, Mekong River

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© 2008 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26