Recent human impacts on the morphological evolution of the Yangtze River delta foreland: A review and new perspectives

Jing Long Du, Shi Lun Yang, Huan Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This paper reviews the morphological change in the Yangtze River delta due to increasing human impacts from three major aspects. The first is the reduction of sediment supply to the ocean due to dam construction, soil conservation, and sand mining within the Yangtze River basin. The reduced sediment supply has decreased the progradation rate of the delta and triggered erosion in the front of the delta. The second impact relates to the reclamation of intertidal wetlands by human activities. Since the 1950s, approximately 1100 km2 of intertidal land has been embanked, resulting in the disappearance of salt marshes and even the entire intertidal zone along some sections of the coastline. The third change in the delta due to human interference is the construction of deep-waterway structures at the mouth bar, which has greatly modified the local hydrodynamics and morphology. Sediment accretion has increased significantly in these areas as a result of sheltering by these deep-waterway structures. This review shows that human activities have severely altered the natural balance among the hydrodynamics and sediment supply, affecting the morphological features of the Yangtze River watershed and delta. Human impacts on the morphological evolution of deltaic coasts in general are becoming an increasingly concern, and more attention should be paid to the management and mitigation of these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-169
Number of pages10
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2016


  • Delta
  • Human activities
  • Morphological evolution
  • Riverine sediment discharge
  • Yangtze River


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