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Impacts of sea-level rise and human activities on the evolution of the Pearl River delta, South China
Han, M.-K.; Wu, L.; Liu, Y.-F.; Mimura, N. (2000). Impacts of sea-level rise and human activities on the evolution of the Pearl River delta, South China, in: Flemming, B.W. et al. (Ed.) Muddy coast dynamics and resource management. Proceedings in Marine Science, 2: pp. 237-246
In: Flemming, B.W.; Delafontaine, M.T.; Liebezeit, G. (Ed.) (2000). Muddy coast dynamics and resource management. Proceedings in Marine Science, 2. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-444-50464-8. 294 pp., more
In: Proceedings in Marine Science. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 1568-2692, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Dynamical Oceanography [6354]

Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Han, M.-K.
  • Wu, L.
  • Liu, Y.-F.
  • Mimura, N.

Abstract
    Research based on Landsat image interpretation, GIS-topographic mapping, historical records, and ground truthing indicates that the evolution of the muddy coast and the expansion of the Pearl River delta have been strongly affected by human activities in historical times. In recent decades the region has experienced severe man-induced siltation coupled with rapid but premature reclamation of muddy tidal flats in the wake of economic development and population expansion.At present, there is practically no natural coastal landscape left, the shoreline being characterized by man-made dikes throughout. In addition, most of the delta plain is poorly protected, being situated below local high-tide and storm-surge levels. The delta region is thus exposed to natural disasters such as typhoon-driven storm surges and ground subsidence caused by local sediment compaction and regional tectonics. These effects are compounded by the threat of accelerated relative sea-level rise which has been estimated to reach 0.5 m within the next 50 years. Without massive protection works this would lead to the inundation of 96.5% of the delta region, and would include the destruction of even entire cities such as Guangzhou. We contend that the effects of human interventions in the Pearl River delta region have reached the same significance as those associated with geological processes. This important aspect has to be taken into account when studying the recent evolution of the delta, especially when seeking sustainable solutions for the economic development of the region.

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