2019 CSDMS meeting-003


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Response of Fluvial Suspended Sediment Fluxes and River Discharge to Future Climate Change on a Global Scale

Nishani Moragoda, University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Alabama, United States. npmoragoda@crimson.ua.edu
Sagy Cohen, University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Alabama, United States. sagy.cohen@ua.edu

Fluvial sediment dynamics play an important role in the functioning and connectivity of the earth’s natural systems. It is not only one of the primary drivers of landscape development and channel morphodynamics, but also has important implications for water resources, ecology, geochemical cycling, and socio-economic aspects. Although anthropogenic influences are a major cause of changes in river sediment transport processes, it is widely accepted that these processes are also sensitive to climate change. Future climate changes particularly rises in temperature driven by increased greenhouse gas emissions, are projected to considerably impact 21st-century precipitation distribution which will alter fluvial processes, soil erosion and sediment loads worldwide. Predicting the responses of riverine fluxes to future climate is, therefore, vital for the management of fluvial systems. In this study, we conduct a global scale analysis of future suspended sediment and water discharge dynamics in response to the changing climate. We use a spatially and temporally explicit global scale hydrogeomorphic model, WBMsed. Changes in the earth’s climate system were obtained by forcing the model with downscaled precipitation and temperature projections generated by multiple General Circulation Models (GCMs), each driven by four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). We investigate climate-induced spatial and temporal trends and variability in global suspended sediment loads and river discharge dynamics in the 21st century.