Disentangling the relative impacts of climate change and human activities on fluvial sediment supply to the coast by the world’s large rivers: Pearl River Basin, China

Type Article
Date 2019-06
Language English
Author(s) Ranasinghe Roshanka1, 2, 3, Wu Chuang Shou4, 5, Conallin John1, 6, Duong Trang Minh1, 2, Anthony Edward Jamal7, 8
Affiliation(s) 1 : Department of Water Science and Engineering, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education P.O. Box 3015 2610, DA, Delft, The Netherlands
2 : Harbour, Coastal and Offshore Engineering, Deltares, PO Box 177, 2600 MH, Delft, The Netherlands
3 : Water Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering Technology, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands
4 : Zhejiang Institute of Hydraulics & Estuary, Hangzhou, 310020, China
5 : Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research in Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, 030020, China
6 : Institute for Land Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, Albury - Wodonga, Elizabeth Mitchell Dr, Thurgoona, NSW, 2640, Australia
7 : Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, INRA, Coll France, CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France
8 : CNRS, UG, IFREMER, LEEISA USR 3456, Centre de recherche de Montabo, Cayenne, Guyane française, France
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2019-06 , Vol. 9 , N. 1 , P. 9236 (10p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-45442-2
WOS© Times Cited 16
Abstract

The world’s large rivers are under stress and experiencing unprecedented changes in hydrology, ecosystems, and fluvial sediment loads. Many of these rivers terminate at the great deltas of the world (home to 500 million people), which depend on fluvial sediments for their very existence. While fluvial sediment loads of large rivers have already been greatly modified by human activities, climate change is expected to further exacerbate the situation. But how does the effect of climate change on fluvial sediment loads compare with that of human impacts? Here, we address this question by combining historical observations and 21st century projections for one of the world’s largest 25 rivers containing two mega dams; Pearl River, China. Our analysis shows that variations in fluvial sediment supply to the coast from the Pearl river over a ~150 year study period are dominated by human activities. Projected climate change driven 21st century increases in riverflow will only compensate for about 1% of the human induced deficit in sediment load, leading to the coastal zone being starved of about 6000 Mt of sediment over the remainder of this century. A similar dominance of human impacts on fluvial sediment supply is likely at other heavily engineered rivers.

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Ranasinghe Roshanka, Wu Chuang Shou, Conallin John, Duong Trang Minh, Anthony Edward Jamal (2019). Disentangling the relative impacts of climate change and human activities on fluvial sediment supply to the coast by the world’s large rivers: Pearl River Basin, China. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 9236 (10p.). Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-45442-2 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00504/61573/