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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2015, Vol. 25 Issue (8) : 899-916     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-015-1209-4
Orginal Article |
Spatio-temporal characteristics and causes of changes in erosion-accretion in the Yangtze (Changjiang) submerged delta from 1982 to 2010
Chengcheng SONG1,2(),Xiaojing SUN3,Jun WANG1,2,*(),Mengya LI1,2,Lu ZHENG1,2
1. School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
2. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science of Ministry of Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
3. Department of Chemistry, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200241, China
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The Yangtze delta’s response to accelerating river damming and irrigation is a topic of global concern. This research analyzed the general erosion-accretion of the submerged delta front, the spatio-temporal changing pattern in different sub-regions, the geomorphological changes in typical cross-sections, and the geomorphological causes of the four main sub-regions (the eastern tidal wetland of Chongming-CM, the Hengsha shoal-HS, the Jiuduansha wetland-JDS, and the eastern tidal wetland of Nanhui-NH). Data sources include topographic data measured at high-resolution, sediment load at Datong Station, and the corresponding estuary construction information. Major findings are: (1) in general, the study area had slightly eroded (the erosion area ratio was 51.83% and the accretion area ratio was 48.17%) from 1982 to 2010, and it had experienced a shift of “erosion-accretion- erosion”. The spatio-temporal change of geomorphology was also significant in the eight sub-regions, excluding constant erosion in the North Channel; (2) evolution in eastern and northern CM and HS, northern JDS, and the region within the 5 m isobath of NH was dominated by vertical deposition, which was the opposite of that in southern CM and HS, and the region within the 5 m isobath of eastern and southern JDS; (3) on the whole, the encompassed surface areas (ESAs) of the 2 m and 5 m isobaths kept increasing, and the annual growth rates reached 10.42 km2/yr and 7.99 km2/yr respectively during 1982-2010 (however, four sub-regions exhibited disagreements), and in the whole region and all sub-regions, the ESA of the 10 m isobath decreased, while the ESA of the 15 m isobath changed slightly during the period and remained stable; (4) being less influenced by the estuarine engineering, CM was the only sub-region where the ESA of the isobath decreased in accordance with the decline of the sediment load. Major conclusions are that estuarine engineering projects play an increasingly important role in affecting the submerged delta against the macro-background of the reduction of sediment load, the change of ESA and the distribution of isobaths. Along with the accelerating construction of the Shanghai International Shipping Centre and reclamation project, the geomorphological evolution of the submerged delta will become more complex and thus deserves frequent monitoring in the future.

Keywords erosion-accretion changes      spatio-temporal characteristics      causes      submerged delta      Yangtze (Changjiang) Estuary      China     
Fund:National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.71373084;Global Change Scientific Research Program of China, No.2010CB951204;Innovation Program of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, No.13ZZ035
Corresponding Authors: Jun WANG     E-mail:;
Issue Date: 17 July 2015
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Chengcheng SONG
Xiaojing SUN
Mengya LI
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Chengcheng SONG,Xiaojing SUN,Jun WANG, et al. Spatio-temporal characteristics and causes of changes in erosion-accretion in the Yangtze (Changjiang) submerged delta from 1982 to 2010[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2015, 25(8): 899-916.
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Figure 1  Yangtze River watershed, showing locations of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) and Datong hydrological station (a); Map of the Yangtze Estuary and the eight study sub-regions (b); The distribution of the submerged delta and the 16 typical sections (c) described in this study
Indicators/periods 1982-2010 1982-1997 1997-2002 2002-2010
Area ratio of accretion and erosion zones 0.92 0.90 1.14 1.05
Net erosion-accretion quantity (108 m3/yr) -0.54 -1.26 0.74 -0.01
Net erosion-accretion rate (cm/yr) -1.11 -2.56 1.50 -0.02
Accretion area (108 m2) 23.66 23.32 26.21 25.18
Accretion volume (108 m3) 41.98 31.02 28.01 30.96
Erosion area (108 m2) 25.46 25.80 22.92 23.96
Erosion volume (108 m3) 57.25 49.93 24.32 31.02
Table 1  Analysis of erosion-accretion for the different study periods
Figure 2  Accretion and erosion in the Yangtze Estuary during 1982-2010 (a), 1982-1997 (b), 1997-2002 (c), and 2002-2010 (d)

(Note: Negative values indicate erosion and positive values accretion. Elevation in meters.)

Net erosion-accretion quantity (108 m3) Net erosion-accretion rate (cm/yr)
1982-2010 1982-1997 1997-2002 2002-2010 1982-2010 1982-1997 1997-2002 2002-2010
① NB 1.91 -0.76 1.35 1.32 3.11 -2.32 12.31 7.52
② SB -6.40 -4.87 0.65 -2.18 -4.63 -6.57 2.60 -5.46
③ NC -4.70 -2.99 -0.76 -0.94 -10.57 -12.57 -9.41 -7.27
④ SC -1.36 0.79 -0.83 -1.32 -2.52 2.72 -8.47 -8.42
⑤ CM -4.53 -11.28 5.85 0.89 -1.31 -6.07 9.45 0.90
⑥ HS -0.52 -2.91 -1.71 4.10 -0.22 -2.36 -4.13 6.19
⑦ JDS -0.18 1.90 -0.35 -1.73 -0.09 1.86 -1.02 -3.14
⑧ NH 0.83 1.41 -0.56 -0.02 0.27 0.86 -1.03 -0.03
Table 2  District statistics of erosion-accretion change in different periods in the Yangtze Estuary
Figure 3  Cross-section variation for Chongming eastern wetland (CM)
Figure 4  Cross-section variation for Hengsha shoal (HS)
Figure 5  Cross-section variation for Jiuduansha wetland (JDS)
Figure 6  Cross-sectional variation of the Nanhui eastern wetland (NH)
Figure 7  Records of annual sediment load from the Yangtze River at Datong (the farthest downstream station) during 1980-2012
Figure 8  Zoning sketch of isobaths and the four important regions in the submerged delta
Figure 9  The change rates in the ESAs of different isobaths in different periods
Year Total area (km2) Change rate (km2/yr)
1982 1997 2002 2010 1982-1997 1997-2002 2002-2010
The area within
2 m isobath
526.29 607.93 609.88 818.12 5.44 0.39 26.03
The area within
5 m isobath
1685.09 1657.73 1712.27 1808.22 -1.82 10.91 11.99
The area within 10 m isobath / 3938.22 3883.00 3693.94 / -11.04 -23.63
The area within 15 m isobath / 4856.77 4724.45 4765.91 / -26.46 5.18
Table 3  Statistics for the ESA of different isobaths
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