Special Issue "Sustainable Management, Conservation and Restoration in Deltaic Ecosystems with Special Emphasis on the Mississippi Delta"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021) | Viewed by 23114

Special Issue Editors

Dr. G. Paul Kemp
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Interests: fluvial geology; sediment transport; coastal ecosystems; river deltas; changing river discharge; “greening” dams
Prof. Dr. John W. Day
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Interests: delta ecosystems; coastal restoration; treatment wetlands; tropical ecology; freshwater forested wetlands; evolution of human society; sustainability; ecosystem goods and services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Coastal ecosystems worldwide are under historically unprecedented threats due to combinations of factors that vary from coast to coast. These include climate change (sea-level rise, more intense storms, and changes in freshwater discharge); growing human populations in port cities near, at, or below sea level; and the increasingly unaffordable costs of protecting people and trade infrastructure in these ecologically significant systems. Deltas are especially vulnerable today because of the rapid emergence of global megacities, efforts to accommodate larger ships, and the potential for irreparable economic losses. The focus of this Special Issue will be the sustainability of both ecosystems and human populations in deltas. The Special Issue will center on the US Mississippi River Delta because of the massive engineering efforts currently underway toward restoring sustainability. In addition, we seek analyses that allow comparisons with other deltas worldwide, particularly those where ecosystem restoration initiatives are underway.

Dr. G. Paul Kemp
Prof. Dr. John W. Day
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • delta
  • Mississippi Delta
  • climate change
  • sustainable management
  • coastal megacities
  • coastal restoration
  • fluvial sediment transport
  • channel resuscitation
  • dam mitigation/removal

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

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Article
Benthic Nutrient Fluxes across Subtidal and Intertidal Habitats in Breton Sound in Response to River-Pulses of a Diversion in Mississippi River Delta
Water 2021, 13(17), 2323; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172323 - 25 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 821
Abstract
We measured benthic fluxes of dissolved nutrients in subtidal sediments and intertidal soils associated with river-pulse events from Mississippi River via the operation of a river diversion structure at Caernarvon, LA. Experiments measuring benthic fluxes in subtidal habitats were conducted during the early [...] Read more.
We measured benthic fluxes of dissolved nutrients in subtidal sediments and intertidal soils associated with river-pulse events from Mississippi River via the operation of a river diversion structure at Caernarvon, LA. Experiments measuring benthic fluxes in subtidal habitats were conducted during the early spring flood pulse (February and March) each year from 2002 to 2004, compared to benthic fluxes of intertidal habitats measured in February and March 2004. Nitrate (NO3) uptake rates for subtidal sediments and intertidal soils depended on overlying water NO3 concentrations at near-, mid-, and far-field locations during river-pulse experiments when water temperatures were >13 °C (NO3 removal was limited below this temperature threshold). NO3 loading to upper Breton Sound was estimated for nine river-pulse events (January, February, and March in 2002, 2003, and 2004) and compared to NO3 removal estimated by the subtidal and intertidal habitats based on connectivity, area, and flux rates as a function of NO3 concentration and water temperature. Most NO3 removal was accomplished by intertidal habitats compared to subtidal habitats with the total NO3 reduction ranging from 8% to 31%, depending on water temperature and diversion discharge rates. River diversion operations have important ecosystem design considerations to reduce the negative effects of eutrophication in downstream coastal waters. Full article
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Article
The Effect of Phragmites australis Dieback on Channel Sedimentation in the Mississippi River Delta: A Conceptual Modeling Study
Water 2021, 13(10), 1407; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101407 - 18 May 2021
Viewed by 924
Abstract
Phragmites australis is a globally distributed wetland plant. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, P. australis on natural levees of the network of distributary channels appears to increase the flow in the deep draft navigation channel, which, in turn, may reduce the [...] Read more.
Phragmites australis is a globally distributed wetland plant. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, P. australis on natural levees of the network of distributary channels appears to increase the flow in the deep draft navigation channel, which, in turn, may reduce the sedimentation and benefit the navigation dredging. For several years, P. australis has been dying in the Mississippi River’s Bird’s Foot Delta, which appears to be shortening the distributary channels and increasing the lateral flow from the remaining portions. A conceptual model based on D-FLOW FM was applied to calculate channel sedimentation in a series of idealized deltaic systems to predict the consequences of P. australis dieback and other factors that diminish the delta complexity, such as sea-level rise and subsidence, on sedimentation in the distributary channels. Channel complexity in each system, which was quantified with an index ranging from 0 to 10 that we developed. Model results indicate that sedimentation was insensitive to the channel complexity in simple deltas but was sensitive to the channel complexity in complex deltas, such as the current Mississippi River Delta with extensive P. australis. Channel sedimentation remains stable from 0 until the channel complexity index reaches 6. In more complex deltas, the sedimentation decreases rapidly as the channel complexity increases. The sedimentation is also affected by waves, river discharge, sediment concentration, grain sizes, and bed level. River managers in Louisiana may benefit from new models based on bathymetric data throughout the Bird’s Foot Delta; data on the effects of the P. australis belowground biomass on bank erodibility across a range of current velocities; and data on the effects of P. australis stem density, diameter, and height on the lateral flow across a range of river stages and tidal stages to help them decide how much to respond to Phragmites dieback. Options include increased navigation dredging, increased restoration of the channel complexity via a thin layer of sediment deposition on natural levees and the planting of more salt-tolerant vegetation on natural levees. Full article
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Article
Effect of Restoration Actions on Organic Carbon Pools in the Lagoon—Delta Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, Colombian Caribbean
Water 2021, 13(9), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091297 - 06 May 2021
Viewed by 781
Abstract
Mangroves provide multiple ecosystem services and are essential for mitigating global warming owing to their capacity to store large carbon (C) stocks. Due to widespread mangrove degradation, actions have been implemented to restore them worldwide. An important representative case in Colombia is the [...] Read more.
Mangroves provide multiple ecosystem services and are essential for mitigating global warming owing to their capacity to store large carbon (C) stocks. Due to widespread mangrove degradation, actions have been implemented to restore them worldwide. An important representative case in Colombia is the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta’s restoration plan. This management intervention focused on restoring the natural hydrological functioning after massive mangrove mortality (~25,000 ha) due to soil hyper-salinization after river water input from the Magdalena River was eliminated. A partial recovery occurred during subsequent years, and hydrological management is still being implemented today. To understand how the degradation and subsequent management have affected mangrove C stocks, we compared C stocks in stands with different intervention levels reflected in their current forest structure. We found that the total C stock (398–1160 Mg C ha−1) was within the range measured in other neotropical mangroves without vegetation deterioration. The aboveground C was significantly higher in the stands where hydraulic connectivity was restored. By contrast, the belowground C was higher in the stands with low hydraulic connectivity due to channel clogging and a lack of sufficient maintenance. Our results show that hydrological management measures influenced above- and belowground C stocks, even at a 2 m depth. In addition, a strong indirect relationship useful for estimating carbon content from organic matter content was found. Full article
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Article
The “Problem” of New Orleans and Diminishing Sustainability of Mississippi River Management—Future Options
Water 2021, 13(6), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13060813 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1344
Abstract
Climate change forcings are having significant impacts in coastal Louisiana today and increasingly affect the future of New Orleans, a deltaic city mostly below sea level, which depends on levee and pumps to protect from a host of water-related threats. Precipitation has increased [...] Read more.
Climate change forcings are having significant impacts in coastal Louisiana today and increasingly affect the future of New Orleans, a deltaic city mostly below sea level, which depends on levee and pumps to protect from a host of water-related threats. Precipitation has increased in the Mississippi River basin generally, increasing runoff, so that in recent years the Mississippi River has been above flood stage for longer periods of time both earlier and later in the year, increasing the likelihood that hurricane surge, traditionally confined to summer and fall, may compound effects of prolonged high water on river levees. The Bonnet Carré Spillway, just upstream of New Orleans has been operated more often and for longer periods of time in recent years than ever before in its nearly 100-year history. Because all rain that falls within the city must be pumped out, residents have been exposed to interior flooding more frequently as high-intensity precipitation events can occur in any season. A sustainable path for New Orleans should involve elevating people and sensitive infrastructure above flood levels, raising some land levels, and creating water storage areas within the city. Management of the lower Mississippi River in the future must include consideration that the river will exceed its design capacity on a regular basis. The river must also be used to restore coastal wetlands through the use of diversions, which will also relieve pressure on levees. Full article
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Article
Assessing Multi-Hazard Vulnerability and Dynamic Coastal Flood Risk in the Mississippi Delta: The Global Delta Risk Index as a Social-Ecological Systems Approach
Water 2021, 13(4), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040577 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1981
Abstract
The tight coupling of the social-ecological system (SES) of the Mississippi Delta calls for balanced natural hazard vulnerability and risk assessments. Most existing assessments have approached these components in isolation. To address this, we apply the Global Delta Risk Index (GDRI) in the [...] Read more.
The tight coupling of the social-ecological system (SES) of the Mississippi Delta calls for balanced natural hazard vulnerability and risk assessments. Most existing assessments have approached these components in isolation. To address this, we apply the Global Delta Risk Index (GDRI) in the Mississippi Delta at high-resolution census tract level. We assess SES spatial patterns of drought, hurricane-force wind, and coastal flood vulnerability and integrate hazard and exposure data for the assessment of coastal flood risk. Moreover, we compare current coastal flood risk to future risk in 2025 based on the modelled effects of flood depth, exposure, and changes in ecosystem area in the context of ongoing efforts under the 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. Results show that the Master Plan will lead to decreases in risk scores by 2025, but the tracts that are currently the most vulnerable benefit less from risk reduction efforts. Along with our index output, we discuss the need for further advancements in SES methodology and the potential for catastrophic hazard events beyond the model parameters, such as extreme rainfall events and very strong hurricanes. Assessing SES risk components can lead to more targeted policy recommendations, demonstrated by the need for Master Plan projects to consider their unequal spatial effects on vulnerability and risk reduction. Full article
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Article
The Development of a Framework for the Integrated Assessment of SDG Trade-Offs in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve
Water 2021, 13(4), 528; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040528 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2301
Abstract
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their corresponding targets are significantly interconnected, with many interactions, synergies, and trade-offs between individual goals across multiple temporal and spatial scales. This paper proposes a framework for the Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) of a complex [...] Read more.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their corresponding targets are significantly interconnected, with many interactions, synergies, and trade-offs between individual goals across multiple temporal and spatial scales. This paper proposes a framework for the Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) of a complex deltaic socio-ecological system in order to analyze such SDG interactions. We focused on the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve (SBR), India, within the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta. It is densely populated with 4.4 million people (2011), high levels of poverty, and a strong dependence on rural livelihoods. It is adjacent to the growing megacity of Kolkata. The area also includes the Indian portion of the world’s largest mangrove forest––the Sundarbans––hosting the iconic Bengal Tiger. Like all deltaic systems, this area is subject to multiple drivers of environmental change operating across scales. The IAM framework is designed to investigate socio-environmental change under a range of explorative and/or normative scenarios and explore associated policy impacts, considering a broad range of subthematic SDG indicators. The following elements were explicitly considered: (1) agriculture; (2) aquaculture; (3) mangroves; (4) fisheries; and (5) multidimensional poverty. Key questions that can be addressed include the implications of changing monsoon patterns, trade-offs between agriculture and aquaculture, or the future of the Sundarbans’ mangroves under sea-level rise and different management strategies. The novel, high-resolution analysis of SDG interactions allowed by the IAM will provide stakeholders and policy makers the opportunity to prioritize and explore the SDG targets that are most relevant to the SBR and provide a foundation for further integrated analysis. Full article
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Article
Assessing Chlorophyll a Spatiotemporal Patterns Combining In Situ Continuous Fluorometry Measurements and Landsat 8/OLI Data across the Barataria Basin (Louisiana, USA)
Water 2021, 13(4), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040512 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1310
Abstract
The acquisition of reliable and accurate data to assess environmental changes over large spatial scales is one of the main limitations to determine the impact of eutrophication, and the effectiveness of management strategies in coastal systems. Here, we used a continuous in situ [...] Read more.
The acquisition of reliable and accurate data to assess environmental changes over large spatial scales is one of the main limitations to determine the impact of eutrophication, and the effectiveness of management strategies in coastal systems. Here, we used a continuous in situ Chl-a fluorometry sensor and L8/OLI satellite data to develop an algorithm and map Chl-a spatial distribution to assess the impact of freshwater diversions and associated high nutrient loading rates in the Barataria Basin (BB) complex, a coastal system in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We collected water quality samples at 24 sampling stations and high-frequency continuous fluorometry in situ [Chl-a] data along a ~87 km transect from 2019–2020. Field [Chl-a] values were highly correlated (r = 0.86; p < 0.0001) with continuous in situ [Chl-a] fluorometry values. These continuous in situ [Chl-a] values were significantly related to a surface reflectance ratio ([B1 + B4]/B3) estimated using L8/OLI data (exponential model; R2 = 0.46; RMSE = 4.8, p < 0.0001). The statistical model replicated [Chl-a] spatial patterns across the BB complex. This work shows the utility of high-frequency continuous Chl-a fluorometry sampling coupled with L8/OLI image analysis to increase the frequency and number of field data sets to assess water quality conditions at large spatial scales in highly dynamic deltaic regions. Full article
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Article
Multivariate Analyses of Water Quality Dynamics Over Four Decades in the Barataria Basin, Mississippi Delta
Water 2020, 12(11), 3143; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113143 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1025
Abstract
Here we examine a combined dataset of water quality dynamics in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana based on transect studies from 1977 to 1978 (Seaton) and from 1994 to 2016. The Davis Pond river diversion into Lake Cataouatche began discharging Mississippi River water into [...] Read more.
Here we examine a combined dataset of water quality dynamics in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana based on transect studies from 1977 to 1978 (Seaton) and from 1994 to 2016. The Davis Pond river diversion into Lake Cataouatche began discharging Mississippi River water into the mid-basin in 2005, and so the later dataset was divided in Pre- and Post-diversion periods. The stations from these three datasets (Seaton, Pre- and Post-diversion) were combined into eleven station groupings for statistical analysis that included ANOVA and principal component analysis. In addition, Trophic State Index (TSI) scores were calculated for each grouping during the three time periods. Lake Cataouatche changed the most with the opening of the Davis Pond river diversion, becoming clearer and less eutrophic with addition of river water, which passed through a large wetland area where sediments were retained before entering the lake. The TSI results for the Seaton re-analysis were very similar to the original analysis and to that of the Pre- and Post-diversion datasets, indicating that the trophic status of the basin waters has remained relatively unchanged. The upper-basin has remained eutrophic with degraded water quality while the lower-basin has remained more mesotrophic without significant water quality deterioration. A main cause of water quality deterioration is agricultural runoff and pervasive hydrologic alteration that bypasses wetlands and causes most runoff to flow directly into water bodies. Full article
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Review

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Review
Recovery and Restoration of Biloxi Marsh in the Mississippi River Delta
Water 2021, 13(22), 3179; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223179 - 10 Nov 2021
Viewed by 590
Abstract
The State of Louisiana is leading an integrated wetland restoration and flood risk reduction program in the Mississippi River Delta. East of New Orleans, Biloxi Marsh, a ~1700 km2 peninsula jutting 60 km north toward the State of Mississippi is one of [...] Read more.
The State of Louisiana is leading an integrated wetland restoration and flood risk reduction program in the Mississippi River Delta. East of New Orleans, Biloxi Marsh, a ~1700 km2 peninsula jutting 60 km north toward the State of Mississippi is one of few Delta wetland tracts well positioned to dissipate hurricane surge and waves threatening the city’s newly rebuilt hurricane flood defenses. Both its location on the eastern margin of the Delta, and its genesis as the geologic core of the shallow water St. Bernard/Terre aux Boeuf sub-delta, which was the primary Mississippi outlet for almost 2000 years, make Biloxi Marsh attractive for restoration, now that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet deep-draft ship channel has been dammed, and 50 years of impacts from construction and operation have abated. Now, the cascade of ecosystem damage it caused can be reversed or offset by restoration projects that leverage natural recovery and increased access to suspended sediment from the Mississippi River. Biloxi Marsh is (1) geologically stable, (2) benefiting from increased input of river sediment, and (3) could be restored to sustainability earlier and for a longer period than most of the rest of the submerging Mississippi Delta. The focus of this review is on the Biloxi Marsh, but it also provides a template for regional studies, including analysis of 2D and 3D seismic and other energy industry data to explore why existing marshes that look similar on the ground or from the air may respond to restoration measures with different levels of success. Properties of inherent durability and resilience can be exploited in restoration project selection, sequencing and expenditure. Issues encountered and investigative methods applied in the Biloxi Marsh are likely to resonate across initiatives now contemplated to sustain valuable river deltas worldwide. Full article
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Review
Deltas in Arid Environments
Water 2021, 13(12), 1677; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13121677 - 17 Jun 2021
Viewed by 768
Abstract
Due to increasing water use, diversion and salinization, along with subsidence and sea-level rise, deltas in arid regions are shrinking worldwide. Some of the most ecologically important arid deltas include the Colorado, Indus, Nile, and Tigris-Euphrates. The primary stressors vary globally, but these [...] Read more.
Due to increasing water use, diversion and salinization, along with subsidence and sea-level rise, deltas in arid regions are shrinking worldwide. Some of the most ecologically important arid deltas include the Colorado, Indus, Nile, and Tigris-Euphrates. The primary stressors vary globally, but these deltas are threatened by increased salinization, water storage and diversion, eutrophication, and wetland loss. In order to make these deltas sustainable over time, some water flow, including seasonal flooding, needs to be re-established. Positive impacts have been seen in the Colorado River delta after flows to the delta were increased. In addition to increasing freshwater flow, collaboration among stakeholders and active management are necessary. For the Nile River, cooperation among different nations in the Nile drainage basin is important. River flow into the Tigris-Euphrates River delta has been affected by politics and civil strife in the Middle East, but some flow has been re-allocated to the delta. Studies commissioned for the Indus River delta recommended re-establishment of some monthly water flow to maintain the river channel and to fight saltwater intrusion. However, accelerating climate impacts, socio-political conflicts, and growing populations suggest a dire future for arid deltas. Full article
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Review
A Review of How Uncertainties in Management Decisions Are Addressed in Coastal Louisiana Restoration
Water 2021, 13(11), 1528; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111528 - 29 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1371
Abstract
Louisiana has lost over 4800 km2 of coastal land since 1932, and a large-scale effort to restore coastal Louisiana is underway, guided by Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. This paper reviews science-based planning processes to address uncertainties in [...] Read more.
Louisiana has lost over 4800 km2 of coastal land since 1932, and a large-scale effort to restore coastal Louisiana is underway, guided by Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. This paper reviews science-based planning processes to address uncertainties in management decisions, and determine the most effective combination of restoration and flood risk reduction projects to reduce land loss, maintain and restore coastal environments, and sustain communities. The large-scale effort to restore coastal Louisiana is made more challenging by uncertainties in sediment in the Mississippi River, rising sea levels, subsidence, storms, oil and gas activities, flood-control levees, and navigation infrastructure. To inform decision making, CPRA uses structured approaches to incorporate science at all stages of restoration project planning and implementation to: (1) identify alternative management actions, (2) select the management action based on the best available science, and (3) assess performance of the implemented management decisions. Applied science and synthesis initiatives are critical for solving scientific and technical uncertainties in the successive stages of program and project management, from planning, implementation, operations, to monitoring and assessment. The processes developed and lessons learned from planning and implementing restoration in coastal Louisiana are relevant to other vulnerable coastal regions around the globe. Full article
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Review
Sustainable Management, Conservation, and Restoration of the Amazon River Delta and Amazon-Influenced Guianas Coast: A Review
Water 2021, 13(10), 1371; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101371 - 14 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3918
Abstract
The Amazon River delta may be currently characterized biophysically as a relatively preserved delta compared to the rampant vulnerability of many of the world’s large deltas. This status of relative preservation is reflected in a number of criteria: The still largely free-flowing nature [...] Read more.
The Amazon River delta may be currently characterized biophysically as a relatively preserved delta compared to the rampant vulnerability of many of the world’s large deltas. This status of relative preservation is reflected in a number of criteria: The still largely free-flowing nature of many of the rivers and the main stem of the Amazon that feed the delta in sediment, exceptional biodiversity, dominant shoreline accretion, and the absence of anthropogenically-generated subsidence. In this review, we show that these relatively reassuring conditions are progressively being called into question by the effects of dams on fluvial sediment supply to the delta, by increasing demographic, urban, and land development pressures in this still largely underpopulated delta, and by problems of governance that underplay aspects of basin-wide and deltaic environmental deterioration. A major challenge is that of bringing together these contrasting demands that are leading to the emergence of zones of environmental stress that test the resilience of this delta. An integral part of the strategy for the analysis of collective action, management, and conservation is that of considering the Amazon delta in terms of interacting socio-ecological systems. Pressures on the delta will be compounded in the future by decreasing fluvial sediment supply and sea-level rise. Although climate change is projected to generate surplus sediment, the rapid growth of dam constructions upstream of the delta will negatively impact the river’s sediment flux. Conservation and management of the Amazon River system aimed at keeping the delta resilient in the context of sea-level rise and reduction of sediment supply will require clear governance and better planning and anticipation, as well as socio-ecological integration. These are also requirements that will need to be implemented in the 1500 km-long coastal zone of the Guianas countries located west of the Amazon delta and the sediment dynamics and stability of which are largely determined by sediment supply from the Amazon. Full article
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Review
Ecological Degradation of the Yangtze and Nile Delta-Estuaries in Response to Dam Construction with Special Reference to Monsoonal and Arid Climate Settings
Water 2021, 13(9), 1145; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091145 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 832
Abstract
This study reviews the monsoonal Yangtze and the arid Nile deltas with the objective of understanding how the process–response between river-basin modifications and delta-estuary ecological degradation are interrelated under contrasting hydroclimate dynamics. Our analysis shows that the Yangtze River had a long-term stepwise [...] Read more.
This study reviews the monsoonal Yangtze and the arid Nile deltas with the objective of understanding how the process–response between river-basin modifications and delta-estuary ecological degradation are interrelated under contrasting hydroclimate dynamics. Our analysis shows that the Yangtze River had a long-term stepwise reduction in sediment and silicate fluxes to estuary due to dam construction since the 1960s, especially after the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) closed in 2003. By contrast, the Nile had a drastic reduction of sediment, freshwater, and silicate fluxes immediately after the construction of the Aswan High Dam (AHD) in 1964. Seasonal rainfall in the mid-lower Yangtze basin (below TGD) complemented riverine materials to its estuary, but little was available to the Nile coast below the AHD in the hyper-arid climate setting. Nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P) fluxes in both river basins have increased because of the overuse of N- and P-fertilizer, land-use changes, urbanization, and industrialization. Nutrient ratios (N:P:Si) in both delta-estuaries was greatly altered, i.e., Yangtze case: 75:1:946 (1960s–1970s), 86:1:272 (1980s–1990s) and 102:1:75 (2000s–2010s); and Nile case: 6:1:32 (1960s–1970s), 8:1:9 (1980s–1990s), and 45:1:22 (2013), in the context of the optimum of Redfield ratio (N:P:Si = 16:1:16). This led to an ecological regime shift evidenced by a long-term change in phytoplankton communities in the Yangtze estuary, where silicious algae tended to lose dominance since the end of the 1990s, when more toxic dinoflagellates began to emerge. In the Nile estuary, such a regime shift was indicated by the post-dam dramatic reduction in zooplankton standing crop and fish landings until the early 2000s when biological recovery occurred due to nutrient inputs from anthropogenic sources. Although the Yangtze had higher human impacts than the Nile in terms of population, industrialization, and fertilizer application, N concentrations in the Nile estuarine waters surpassed the Yangtze in recent decades. However, eutrophication in the Yangtze estuary is much more intensive than in the Nile, leading to the likelihood of its estuarine water becoming more acidic than ever before. Therefore, ecological degradation in both delta-estuaries does not follow a linear trajectory, due not only to different climate dynamics but also to human forcings. The comparative insights of this study should be incorporated into future integrated coastal management of these two important systems. Full article
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Review
A Review of 50 Years of Study of Hydrology, Wetland Dynamics, Aquatic Metabolism, Water Quality and Trophic Status, and Nutrient Biogeochemistry in the Barataria Basin, Mississippi Delta—System Functioning, Human Impacts and Restoration Approaches
Water 2021, 13(5), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050642 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1734
Abstract
Here we review an extensive series of studies of Barataria Basin, an economically and ecologically important coastal basin of the Mississippi Delta. Human activity has greatly altered the hydrology of the basin by decreasing riverine inflows from leveeing of the river and its [...] Read more.
Here we review an extensive series of studies of Barataria Basin, an economically and ecologically important coastal basin of the Mississippi Delta. Human activity has greatly altered the hydrology of the basin by decreasing riverine inflows from leveeing of the river and its distributaries, increasing runoff with high nutrient concentrations from agricultural fields, and channelization of wetlands of the basin interior that has altered flow paths to often bypass wetlands. This has resulted in degraded water quality in the upper basin and wetland loss in the lower basin. Trophic state analysis found the upper basin to be eutrophic and the lower basin to be mesotrophic. Gross aquatic primary production (GAPP) was highest in the upper basin, lowest in the mid basin, and intermediate in the lower basin. Forested wetlands in the upper basin have degraded over the past several decades due to increased periods of flooding, while there has been massive loss of emergent wetlands in the lower basin due to increasing water levels and pervasive alteration of hydrology. Restoration will entail reconnection of waterways with surrounding wetlands in the upper basin, and implementation of river sediment diversions, marsh creation using dredged sediments and barrier island restoration. Findings from this review are discussed in terms of the functioning of deltas globally. Full article
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Review
Life Cycle of Oil and Gas Fields in the Mississippi River Delta: A Review
Water 2020, 12(5), 1492; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051492 - 23 May 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2175
Abstract
Oil and gas (O&G) activity has been pervasive in the Mississippi River Delta (MRD). Here we review the life cycle of O&G fields in the MRD focusing on the production history and resulting environmental impacts and show how cumulative impacts affect coastal ecosystems. [...] Read more.
Oil and gas (O&G) activity has been pervasive in the Mississippi River Delta (MRD). Here we review the life cycle of O&G fields in the MRD focusing on the production history and resulting environmental impacts and show how cumulative impacts affect coastal ecosystems. Individual fields can last 40–60 years and most wells are in the final stages of production. Production increased rapidly reaching a peak around 1970 and then declined. Produced water lagged O&G and was generally higher during declining O&G production, making up about 70% of total liquids. Much of the wetland loss in the delta is associated with O&G activities. These have contributed in three major ways to wetland loss including alteration of surface hydrology, induced subsidence due to fluids removal and fault activation, and toxic stress due to spilled oil and produced water. Changes in surface hydrology are related to canal dredging and spoil placement. As canal density increases, the density of natural channels decreases. Interconnected canal networks often lead to saltwater intrusion. Spoil banks block natural overland flow affecting exchange of water, sediments, chemicals, and organisms. Lower wetland productivity and reduced sediment input leads to enhanced surficial subsidence. Spoil banks are not permanent but subside and compact over time and many spoil banks no longer have subaerial expression. Fluid withdrawal from O&G formations leads to induced subsidence and fault activation. Formation pore pressure decreases, which lowers the lateral confining stress acting in the formation due to poroelastic coupling between pore pressure and stress. This promotes normal faulting in an extensional geological environment like the MRD, which causes surface subsidence in the vicinity of the faults. Induced reservoir compaction results in a reduction of reservoir thickness. Induced subsidence occurs in two phases especially when production rate is high. The first phase is compaction of the reservoir itself while the second phase is caused by a slow drainage of pore pressure in bounding shales that induces time-delayed subsidence associated with shale compaction. This second phase can continue for decades, even after most O&G has been produced, resulting in subsidence over much of an oil field that can be greater than surface subsidence due to altered hydrology. Produced water is water brought to the surface during O&G extraction and an estimated 2 million barrels per day were discharged into Louisiana coastal wetlands and waters from nearly 700 sites. This water is a mixture of either liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, high salinity (up to 300 ppt) water, dissolved and suspended solids such as sand or silt, and injected fluids and additives associated with exploration and production activities and it is toxic to many estuarine organisms including vegetation and fauna. Spilled oil has lethal and sub-lethal effects on a wide range of estuarine organisms. The cumulative effect of alterations in surface hydrology, induced subsidence, and toxins interact such that overall impacts are enhanced. Restoration of coastal wetlands degraded by O&G activities should be informed by these impacts. Full article
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