Mega Estuarine Constructions Modulate the Changjiang River Plume Extension in Adjacent Seas

Mega constructions have been built in many river estuaries, but their environmental consequences in the adjacent coastal oceans
are not well understood. This issue was addressed with an example of the Changjiang River Estuary, where massive navigation
and reclamation constructions were recently built on the tidal flats that separate the three major outlets. Based on numerical model
twin validations against data from eight cruises and the scenario simulations, we found that the estuarine constructions have
profoundly affected the plume extension and the associated physical stratification in a surprisingly large area. Before the
constructions were built, the water masses in the two southern outlets were transported across the tidal flats to the northern outlet
by the lateral tidal residual transports. However, this lateral exchange was gradually blocked as the constructions were built, so
the freshwater in the two southern outlets now exits the river mouth directly. The overall effect is that the northeastward offshore
plume extension has been weakened, whereas the southward along-shelf plume extension has been strengthened. The ecological
consequences of this shift in plume regime are speculated. Previously, the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) was thought to be
responsible for some offshore environmental changes by modulating the river plume, but our results show that its effects on
the river plume characteristics are secondary. The TGD and the mega estuarine constructions were built during a similar period;
hence, their influences need to be reconsidered.
Estuaries and Coasts
Hui Wu& Tianning Wu & Mei Bai