EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Effect of decreasing sediment supply and sea level rise on the long-term morphodynamics of a large estuary

Bing Yuan1,2, Jian Sun2, Binliang Lin2, and Fanyi Zhang2,3
Bing Yuan et al.
  • 1Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai , China (
  • 2Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (,
  • 3Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, Nanjing, China (

Globally the riverine sediment supply to estuaries is decreasing and the mean sea level is rising, while the effects of these changes on the long-term estuarine morphodynamics have not been fully investigated. An idealized numerical model was used to explore the long-term morphodynamics of a large estuary subject to these changes. In the model, a funnel-shaped channel with fixed banks, constant riverine water and sediment fluxes, a single grain size and a semi-diurnal tide were used. A range of values of changes in the sediment supply (50-90% reduction) and sea level (1-5~mm/yr increase) were considered. Starting from an equilibrium state for an initial sediment supply, the estuary shifts to a new equilibrium for the considered changes on a timescale of millennia. Half of the bed level change occurs within several hundreds of years. A larger decrease in the sediment supply leads to a stronger bed erosion, while the corresponding adjustment time has minor changes in its range for the considered settings. When combined with sea level rise, the erosion is weakened and the adjustment time is shortened. The equilibrium state under sea level rise is characterized by a bed level keeping pace with the sea level and a significant amount of sediment being trapped in the estuary. Additional numerical experiments that use more realistic geometry and forcing of the Yangtze Estuary show that overall erosion of the estuary is expected for centuries.

How to cite: Yuan, B., Sun, J., Lin, B., and Zhang, F.: Effect of decreasing sediment supply and sea level rise on the long-term morphodynamics of a large estuary, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1016,, 2021.

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