Multi‐centennial variability of Yangtze Delta growth over the last 2000 years: interplay of climate and people

Nian, X ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3164-9254, Zhang, W ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0722-5950, Wang, X, Hutchinson, SM ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0072-1062, Zhao, X and Liu, K ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0038-2198 2022, 'Multi‐centennial variability of Yangtze Delta growth over the last 2000 years: interplay of climate and people' , Earth's Future, 10 (8) .

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Abstract

Reconstruction of sediment accumulation in river deltas over the Holocene provides a basis for understanding the relationship between climate change, human activities and delta growth. However, variations in deposition rates on a centennial‐scale over the last 2000 years remain poorly studied for mega‐deltas. Based on optically stimulated luminescence and AMS 14C ages, we calculated deposited sediment volumes in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) for 500‐year intervals over the last two millennia for the first time. Our results reveal that the 2.0–1.5 and 0.5–0 ka periods had higher sediment deposition rates than in 1.5–1.0 and 1.0–0.5 ka, with maximum value about two times that of the minimum. A comparison with historical records of flooding and drought events indicates that a wetter climate led to a higher sediment deposition, reflecting the role of fluvial discharge in delta growth. However, the highest sediment deposition (205 ± 29 × 106 m3/a) over the last 500 years is not only related to the wetter conditions of the Little Ice Age, but also linked to dramatic regional population growth. We suggest that human activities have predominated over natural forcing in determining the deltaic growth over the last five centuries. Taking the Medieval Climate Anomaly with the lowest deposition volume as an analog of current climate warming, and considering the decline in sediment loads due to recent damming and soil conservation, the YRD is likely to face an even more severe deficit in sediment supply and higher risk of delta destruction in the coming centuries.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Earth's Future
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 2328-4277
Funders: National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, China Postdoctoral Special Science Foundation, China Postdoctoral Science Foundation, National Key Research and Development Program of China, State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research
SWORD Depositor: Publications Router
Depositing User: Publications Router
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2022 12:09
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 08:01
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/64510

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