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Establishing sustainable sediment budgets is critical for climate-resilient mega-deltas

Establishing sustainable sediment budgets is critical for climate-resilient mega-deltas
Establishing sustainable sediment budgets is critical for climate-resilient mega-deltas
Many of the world's major river deltas face a sustainability crisis, as they come under threat of increases in salinity and the extent of tidal zones forced by combinations of sea-level rise, changes in river discharge and channel geometry. The relative contribution of these factors to future increases in tidal extent remains unconstrained, with most prior work emphasising the role of climate-driven sea-level rise. Here we use new field data from the Mekong delta to measure variations of river discharge and changes of channel geometry, and project them into the future. We combine these with projections of future sea-level rise into a 2D hydrodynamic numerical model and quantify the influence of the different driving factors on future tidal extension into the delta. We show that within the next two decades, tidal extension into the Mekong delta will increase by up to 56 km due to channel deepening (92%), dominantly driven by anthropogenic sediment starvation. Furthermore, even under strong mitigation scenarios, sediment starvation still drives a long-term commitment to future tidal extension. Specifically, by 2098 eustatically rising sea-levels are predicted to contribute only modestly to the projected extension. These findings demonstrate the urgent need for policy makers to adopt evidence-based measures to reverse negative sediment budgets that drive tidal extension into sediment starved deltas.
1748-9326
Vasilopoulos, G.
425ac501-05b1-480f-8a67-efeace00094c
Le, Quan
23794d5d-5bfe-4ee1-9918-5b68661d9c63
Parsons, Daniel
0c3761b8-053f-42b1-91c1-268f9eef1ae8
Darby, Stephen
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Tri, Van
16fe89c0-3633-47c3-a605-d7664b7d62f6
Hung, Nguyen
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Haigh, Ivan
945ff20a-589c-47b7-b06f-61804367eb2d
Voepel, Harold
7330972a-c61c-4058-b52c-3669fadfcf70
Nicholas, Andrew
667e4252-c02e-408e-a941-a0cbcb7486d6
Aalto, Rolf
78fbaea1-c10c-44da-a6a1-6f0a1eeff388
Vasilopoulos, G.
425ac501-05b1-480f-8a67-efeace00094c
Le, Quan
23794d5d-5bfe-4ee1-9918-5b68661d9c63
Parsons, Daniel
0c3761b8-053f-42b1-91c1-268f9eef1ae8
Darby, Stephen
4c3e1c76-d404-4ff3-86f8-84e42fbb7970
Tri, Van
16fe89c0-3633-47c3-a605-d7664b7d62f6
Hung, Nguyen
6b0cabb2-c7a9-4f80-b0f1-85df881b3bce
Haigh, Ivan
945ff20a-589c-47b7-b06f-61804367eb2d
Voepel, Harold
7330972a-c61c-4058-b52c-3669fadfcf70
Nicholas, Andrew
667e4252-c02e-408e-a941-a0cbcb7486d6
Aalto, Rolf
78fbaea1-c10c-44da-a6a1-6f0a1eeff388

Vasilopoulos, G., Le, Quan, Parsons, Daniel, Darby, Stephen, Tri, Van, Hung, Nguyen, Haigh, Ivan, Voepel, Harold, Nicholas, Andrew and Aalto, Rolf (2021) Establishing sustainable sediment budgets is critical for climate-resilient mega-deltas. Environmental Research Letters, 16, [064089]. (doi:10.1088/1748-9326/ac06fc).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Many of the world's major river deltas face a sustainability crisis, as they come under threat of increases in salinity and the extent of tidal zones forced by combinations of sea-level rise, changes in river discharge and channel geometry. The relative contribution of these factors to future increases in tidal extent remains unconstrained, with most prior work emphasising the role of climate-driven sea-level rise. Here we use new field data from the Mekong delta to measure variations of river discharge and changes of channel geometry, and project them into the future. We combine these with projections of future sea-level rise into a 2D hydrodynamic numerical model and quantify the influence of the different driving factors on future tidal extension into the delta. We show that within the next two decades, tidal extension into the Mekong delta will increase by up to 56 km due to channel deepening (92%), dominantly driven by anthropogenic sediment starvation. Furthermore, even under strong mitigation scenarios, sediment starvation still drives a long-term commitment to future tidal extension. Specifically, by 2098 eustatically rising sea-levels are predicted to contribute only modestly to the projected extension. These findings demonstrate the urgent need for policy makers to adopt evidence-based measures to reverse negative sediment budgets that drive tidal extension into sediment starved deltas.

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Published date: 16 June 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 449884
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/449884
ISSN: 1748-9326
PURE UUID: 60b40853-0a8a-4f98-a7be-247b1969805d
ORCID for Stephen Darby: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8778-4394

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Date deposited: 23 Jun 2021 16:31
Last modified: 24 Jun 2021 01:35

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