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Warming-driven erosion and sediment transport in cold regions

November 1, 2022

Rapid atmospheric warming since the mid-twentieth century has increased temperature-dependent erosion and sediment-transport processes in cold environments, affecting food, energy and water security. In this Review, we summarize landscape changes in cold environments and provide a global inventory of increases in erosion and sediment yield driven by cryosphere degradation. Anthropogenic climate change, deglaciation, and thermokarst disturbances are causing increased sediment mobilization and transport processes in glacierized and periglacierized basins. With continuous cryosphere degradation, sediment transport will continue to increase until reaching a maximum (peak sediment). Thereafter, transport is likely to shift from a temperature-dependent regime toward a rainfall-dependent regime roughly between 2100–2200. The timing of the regime shift would be regulated by changes in meltwater, erosive rainfall and landscape erodibility, and complicated by geomorphic feedbacks and connectivity. Further progress in integrating multisource sediment observations, developing physics-based sediment-transport models, and enhancing interdisciplinary and international scientific collaboration is needed to predict sediment dynamics in a warming world.

Publication Year 2022
Title Warming-driven erosion and sediment transport in cold regions
DOI 10.1038/s43017-022-00362-0
Authors Tinghu Zhang, Dongfeng Li, Amy E. East, Desmond E. Walling, Stuart N. Lane, Irina Overeem, Achim A. Beylich, Michele N Koppes, Xixi Lu
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature--Reviews of Earth and Environment
Index ID 70238033
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center