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J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2017, 5(2), 24; doi:10.3390/jmse5020024

Predicting Dynamic Coastal Delta Change in Response to Sea-Level Rise

1
Geography and Geology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Hull 7RX, UK
2
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS), Utrecht University, Yerseke 4400 AC, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 9 June 2017 / Accepted: 16 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Sea Levels, Impacts and Adaptation)
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Abstract

The world’s largest deltas are densely populated, of significant economic importance and among the most valuable coastal ecosystems. Projected twenty-first century sea-level rise (SLR) poses a threat to these low-lying coastal environments with inhabitants, resources and ecology becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Large spatial differences exist in the parameters shaping the world’s deltas with respect to river discharge, tides and waves, substrate and sediment cohesion, sea-level rise, and human engineering. Here, we use a numerical flow and transport model to: (1) quantify the capability of different types of deltas to dynamically respond to SLR; and (2) evaluate the resultant coastal impact by assessing delta flooding, shoreline recession and coastal habitat changes. We show three different delta forcing experiments representative of many natural deltas: (1) river flow only; (2) river flow and waves; and (3) river flow and tides. We find that delta submergence, shoreline recession and changes in habitat are not dependent on the applied combination of river flow, waves and tides but are rather controlled by SLR. This implies that regional differences in SLR determine delta coastal impacts globally, potentially mitigated by sediment composition and ecosystem buffering. This process-based approach of modelling future deltaic change provides the first set of quantitative predictions of dynamic morphologic change for inclusion in Climate and Earth System Models while also informing local management of deltaic areas across the globe. View Full-Text
Keywords: sea level; delta; numerical modelling; tides; waves; coastal erosion; coastal flooding; coastal habitat; coastal management sea level; delta; numerical modelling; tides; waves; coastal erosion; coastal flooding; coastal habitat; coastal management
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Van De Lageweg, W.I.; Slangen, A.B.A. Predicting Dynamic Coastal Delta Change in Response to Sea-Level Rise. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2017, 5, 24.

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