We present an assessment of contemporary and future effective sealevel rise (ESLR) using a sample of 40 deltas distributed worldwide. For any delta, ESLR is a net rate defined by eustatic sea-level rise, natural gross rates of fluvial sediment deposition and subsidence, and accelerated subsidence due to groundwater and hydrocarbon extraction. Present-day ESLR, estimated from geospatial data and a simple model of deltaic dynamics, ranges from 0.5 to 12.5 mm year-1. Reduced accretion of fluvial sediment from upstream siltation of reservoirs and freshwater consumptive irrigation losses are primary determinants of ESLR in nearly 70% of the deltas, while for only 12% eustatic sea-level rise predominates. Future scenarios indicate a much larger impact on deltas than previously estimated. Serious challenges to human occupancy of deltas worldwide are conveyed by upland watershed factors, which have been studied less comprehensively than the climate change and sea-level rise question.
Journal or Conference Title
International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)
Vorosmarty, Charles; Ericson, Jason P.; Dingman, S Lawrence; and Ward, Larry G., "Future impacts of fresh water resource management: sensitivity of coastal deltas" (2007). International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS). 398.