Decadal morphological evolution of the Yangtze Estuary in response to river input changes and estuarine engineering projects

Hualong Luan, PX Ding, Zheng Bing Wang, Jian Zhong Ge, Shi Lun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


The Yangtze Estuary in China has been intensively influenced by human activities including altered river and sediment discharges in its catchment and local engineering projects in the estuary over the past half century. River sediment discharge has significantly decreased since the 1980s because of upstream dam construction and water-soil conservation. We analyzed bathymetric data from the Yangtze Estuary between 1958 and 2010 and divided the entire estuary into two sections: inner estuary and mouth bar area. The deposition and erosion pattern exhibited strong temporal and spatial variations. The inner estuary and mouth bar area underwent different changes. The inner estuary was altered from sedimentation to erosion primarily at an intermediate depth (5–15 m) along with river sediment decline. In contrast, the mouth bar area showed continued accretion throughout the study period. The frequent river floods during the 1990s and simultaneously decreasing river sediment probably induced the peak erosion of the inner estuary in 1986–1997. We conclude that both sediment discharge and river flood events played important roles in the decadal morphological evolution of the Yangtze Estuary. Regarding the dredged sediment, the highest net accretion rate occurred in the North Passage where jetties and groins were constructed to regulate the navigation channel in 1997–2010. In this period, the jetties induced enhanced deposition at the East Hengsha Mudflat and the high accretion rate within the mouth bar area was maintained. The impacts of estuarine engineering projects on morphological change extended beyond their sites
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
Issue numberJuly
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2016


  • Estuarine morphology
  • River input
  • Estuarine engineering projects
  • Yangtze Estuary


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