SATELLITE OBSERVATIONS REVEAL MORPHOLOGICAL CHANGES IN ASIAN DELTAS FROM 1986 TO 2018
Keywords: Asian deltas, Morphological changes, Shoreline migrations, Water frequency, Human activity
Abstract. Asian deltas are densely populated and richly bio-diversified regions with significant social, economic, ecological and environmental importance across the globe. These low-lying and fertile floodplains support substantial food production. Because of sediment supply reductions, sea-level rising, subsidence, and frequent storm surges, many deltas are rapidly sinking and shrinking, which will threaten survival of millions of populations. It’s of great significance to monitor the delta morphological evolution and understand the relationship between their shoreline migrations and sediment supplies. However, quantifying the delta morphological changes is challenging due to its nature of high dynamics. In this study, we developed a methodology integrated by a time-series algorithm of water frequency and a spatial analysis to track the morphological changes of 11 major Asian deltas from 1986 to 2018.The results show that the deltas of Yellow, Yangtze, Pearl, Red, Mekong, Ganges-Brahmaputra, and Chao Phraya have experienced a net land gain at the total of 1829.3 km2, with China’s three major deltas accounting for 73 percent of all. The deltas of Mahanadi, Irrawaddy, Indus, and Godavari-Krishna have undergone a net land loss at the total of 295.1 km2, of which the Indus River Delta accounted for 65 percent. Most of the shorelines in the Yangtze River Delta were constantly advancing seaward at a rate of over 30 m/year, whereas, many ones in the rest of Asian deltas were significantly being eroded at a rate of over 20 m/year. These changes in delta morphology are closely related to sediment supplies and management policies. These results also suggest that rational wetland reclamation with auxiliary projects of ecological restoration can enhance the deltaic ability of sustainable development.