Temporal Variations in Water and Sediment Discharge from the Changjiang (Yangtze River) and Downstream Sedimentary Responses

  • S. L. YangEmail author
  • H. F. Yang
Part of the Estuaries of the World book series (EOTW)


This chapter focuses on anthropogenic impacts on the water and sediment discharge of the Changjiang over the past 150 years and the sedimentary response of its delta and adjacent waters. Increased water consumption and dam construction have reduced the annual water discharge by ~10 % in the past 150 years. This decrease is mainly attributable to the reduction between August and November each year when the reservoirs store water. In contrast, the water discharge in January and February each year has shown a significant increasing trend, presumably due to water release from reservoirs in the dry season. Human impacts on the riverine sediment load are even more pronounced than impacts on river discharge. The annual sediment load has decreased by more than 70 % since the 1970s and by more than 50 % since the 1990s, due to dam construction and soil conservation in the drainage basin. The decline in sediment discharge has caused a drastic decrease in the progradation of intertidal wetlands on the delta front and has generated erosion on the subaqueous delta. Sediment resuspension from delta erosion partly offsets the decrease in riverine sediment supply, so that the suspended sediment concentration (SSC) in the estuary and adjacent waters only decreased by an average of 26 % over the period 1992–2009. It is predicted that these temporal trends will continue to occur in response to anthropogenic impacts for the remainder of this century.


Water discharge Sediment discharge Anthropogenic impacts Changjiang (Yangtze River) Coastal response 



This work was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant #: 41130856 and 41021064). We thank Mr. P. Li and Mrs. X.Y. Zhang for their help with the production of figures. Data of water and sediment discharge from Changjiang were collected by the Changjiang Water Resources Commission, Ministry of Water Resources in China.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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