Coastal sedimentation across North America doubled in the 20th century despite river dams

A. B. Rodriguez, B. A. McKee, C. B. Miller, M. C. Bost, A. N. Atencio
2020 Nature Communications  
The proliferation of dams since 1950 promoted sediment deposition in reservoirs, which is thought to be starving the coast of sediment and decreasing the resilience of communities to storms and sea-level rise. Diminished river loads measured upstream from the coast, however, should not be assumed to propagate seaward. Here, we show that century-long records of sediment mass accumulation rates (g cm-2 yr-1) and sediment accumulation rates (cm yr-1) more than doubled after 1950 in coastal
more » ... in coastal depocenters around North America. Sediment sources downstream of dams compensate for the river-sediment lost to impoundments. Sediment is accumulating in coastal depocenters at a rate that matches or exceeds relative sea-level rise, apart from rapidly subsiding Texas and Louisiana where water depths are increasing and intertidal areas are disappearing. Assuming no feedbacks, accelerating global sea-level rise will eventually surpass current sediment accumulation rates, underscoring the need for including coastal-sediment management in habitat-restoration projects.
doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16994-z pmid:32591539 fatcat:x2v2ffhnd5c2lbup2nhdadappq