You are on page 1of 12

Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Journal of Hydrology
journal homepage:

The role of mega dams in reducing sediment uxes: A case study of large
Asian rivers
Harish Gupta a,, Shuh-Ji Kao a,b, Minhan Dai a

State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China
Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei 115, Taiwan

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 31 January 2012
Received in revised form 10 July 2012
Accepted 21 July 2012
Available online 31 July 2012
This manuscript was handled by
Konstantine P. Georgakakos, Editor-in-Chief,
with the assistance of Ellen Wohl, Associate
Suspended sediment
Indian peninsular rivers
Large Asian rivers
Mega dams
Major events

s u m m a r y
In order to sustain the ever growing population and to meet water and energy requirements of the rapidly growing economies, most of the large rivers draining through East, Southern and Southeast (ESSE)
Asian region have been regulated all along their courses, over the past few decades. For instance, ESSE
Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) host about
250 mega dams and several tens of thousands of large and small reservoirs. The present study provides a
revised estimate on annual suspended sediment uxes of the large rivers draining through ESSE region,
including the latest data of the Indian peninsula rivers. In the last 50 years, the combined annual sediment ux of the large Chinese rivers has been reduced from 1800 million tons (Mt) to about 370 Mt.
We estimate that at present the Indian peninsular rivers collectively transport about 83 Mt of sediment
annually. The GangaBrahmaputra and the Indus, contribute 850 and 13 Mt of sediments, respectively to
the oceans. Our revised estimates suggest that at present the large rivers of ESSE region, collectively
delivering 2150 Mt of sediment annually to the oceans. We show that at decadal scale, decline in sediment uxes of the large Asian rivers are proportional to the number of mega dams present in the respective catchments. We also demonstrate that storage of sediment-laden water of major ood events (majorevent), led to huge sediment trapping behind mega dams. Thus, ongoing and planned dam constructions
activities across ESSE Asia may further reduce the annual sediment uxes.
2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
It is evident that geological processes relentlessly change the
face of the Earth, but we pay less heed to a second type of process
of change, extremely recent if considered at geological time scale,
consists of the permanent activities by man (Van Loon, 2001). At
the beginning of the Holocene, as a result of the transition from
food appropriation to food production, the human interaction
and inuence on the environment has increased and intensied
(Ter-Stepanian, 1988). One of the major consequences of increased
agriculture production was, a large-scale conversion of forested
areas to agriculture lands, leading to increased soil erosion. Rivers
in Asia have been centers of ancient civilizations and it is likely that
the human inuence on soil erosion, dates back to as early as
9000 years ago with deforestation and spread of agriculture from
the Fertile Crescent (Heun et al., 1997). It was followed by wild
rice cultivation about 7500 years ago in ESSE Asian region (Glover
and Higham, 1996); whereas, irrigated rice farming become popular 5000 years ago (Roberts, 1998). Wilkinson and McElroy
(2007) calculated that present farmland denudation is proceeding
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (H. Gupta).
0022-1694/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

at a rate of 600 m/million year (75 Gt yr 1) and is largely conned to the lower elevations of the Earths land surface. Increased
soil erosion led to increased sediment uxes in most of the rivers
across the globe, which prompted Milliman and Syvitski (1992)
to propose that due to growing human activities, natural processes
of soil/sediment erosion have been accelerated, perhaps by a factor
of two on a global scale. Over the past three centuries, the human
population increased 10-fold to 6 billion, growing by a factor of
four during the past century alone (McNeill, 2000). Mans intervention has reached its peak during the 20th century with energy
consumption, water use, irrigated land and crop area increasing
by factors of 16, 9, 5 and 2 respectively; while deforested land
increased by 20% (McNeill, 2000). In this modern era of rapid
human-caused changes (also known as the Anthropocene), driven
by a need to cope with the growing demand of food and energy,
both for agriculture and industrial needs, tens of thousands of
dams have already been constructed and several thousand more
are planned across the globe. It has been shown that dams trap a
signicant proportion of the global sediment uxes (Syvitski
et al., 2005; Vorosmarty et al., 2003) that would otherwise be
delivered to the oceans and this number appears to be steadily
increasing (Liquete et al., 2004). It is obvious that human actions
persistently change the trends of the suspended loads in the


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

worlds rivers (Meybeck, 2003; Syvitski et al., 2005; Walling and

Fang, 2003) and with the growing human activities, much has
changed in terms of sediment delivery with variances in both
directions (Dearing and Jones, 2003; Walling and Fang, 2003).
On a global scale, Asian rivers have been recognized as the
largest sediment supplier to the worlds oceans (Milliman and
Meade, 1983; Milliman and Syvitski, 1992; Walling and Webb,
1983). Milliman and Meade (1983) estimated that the large rivers
owing through ESSE Asia, contribute approximately 6300 Mt of
sediment annually to the coastal seas and about 1800 Mt of it
comes from the large Chinese rivers. A compilation of sediment
ux data from some of the key studies in the last century (Abbas
and Subramanian, 1984; Holeman, 1968; Milliman and Meade,
1983; Milliman and Syvitski, 1992; Narayana and Babu, 1983;
Vaithiyanathan et al., 1988) suggest that the rivers owing through
Indian subcontinent transported about 2500 Mt of suspended
sediments annually; thus, accounting for 1520% of the global
sediment ux. Although the large Himalayan rivers, such as the
GangaBrahmaputra (1235 Mt; (Abbas and Subramanian, 1984)
and the Indus (481 Mt; (Holeman, 1968) together contributed
approximately 70% of it, the rest come from the peninsular rivers.
Recently, Syvitski et al. (2005) estimated that the Asian rivers
(except Indonesian) carry approximately 4.74 0.8 Gt of sediments
annually and pointed out that humans have increased the inland
sediment transport by the global rivers through soil erosion by
2.3 0.6 Gt yr 1. According to them despite this increase, the
annual ux of sediment reaching to the worlds coasts, has been
reduced by 1.4 0.3 Gt, because of the retention within reservoirs;
thus resulting in a 10% lower modern global sediment ux

(12.6 Gt) compared with the pre-Anthropocene load (14 0.3 Gt).
Vorosmarty et al. (2003) estimated that large reservoirs
(>0.5 km3 maximum storage capacity) and small reservoirs in regulated basins, trap 30% and 23% of the sediment ux at basin scale,
respectively. According to Vorosmarty et al. (2003) all registered
reservoirs (45,000) collectively trap 45 Gt or 2530% of the total
sediment annually; while an additional impact of smaller unregistered impoundments (80,000) yet remains unknown. Syvitski et al.
(2005) stressed that in a modern world without reservoirs, the
global annual sediment ux would be about 16.2 Gt. Presently,
around 70% of the worlds rivers are intercepted by large reservoirs
(Kummu and Varis, 2007), thus compelling Walling and Fang
(2003) to mention that reservoir construction currently represents
the most important inuence on landocean sediment export.
Based on data from the International Commission on Large
Dams (ICOLD), Farnsworth and Milliman (2003) mentioned that
as of year 1999, the number of large dams (dened as being higher
than 15 m) under construction in China and India were 330 and
650, respectively. Among the 47,425 dams listed by ICOLD, China
accounted for more than half, a remarkably high number considering that in 1949 China only had three large dams. According to the
Chinese National Committee on large Dams (Chin-COLD, 2011) by
the end of 2008 there were over 80,000 large and small-scale
reservoirs in China, of which 5340 dams (completed or under
construction) were higher than 30 m. Among these large dams,
about 115 are mega dams (with height 100 m and above and/or
with storage capacity of >1 km3 (Fig. 1). Farnsworth and Milliman
(2003) pointed out that continuing dam construction throughout
Africa and Southern Asia may signicantly affect water and

Fig. 1. Spatial distribution of mega dams and changes in annual sediment ux from East, South and Southeast Asian large rivers draining into the Bohai sea, East China Sea,
South China Sea, Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Thickness of arrow-bars denotes the Historical and Current amount annual sediment load (Mt).

H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

sediment deliveries to the global oceans. Recent studies on the

large Asian rivers (i.e. Yangtze, Yellow, Pearl, Indus and Red) demonstrated that water discharge and sediment uxes of these rivers
have been drastically altered, either directly due to trapping behind dams and/or protective measures to prevent soil erosion
(Chu et al., 2009; Inam et al., 2007; Le et al., 2007). Most of the Indian rivers (including Ganga) have been regulated in the last few
decades and declines in downstream sediment loads have already
been reported for some of the large rivers (Biksham and Subramanian, 1980, 1988; Chakrapani and Subramanian, 1990, 1993; Gupta
and Chakrapani, 2005, 2007; Ramesh and Subramanian, 1986,
1988; Vaithiyanathan et al., 1992). Since the beginning of the
21st century, several studies have been devoted to understand
the dynamics of reduced sediment uxes of the large Chinese rivers (Chen et al., 2001; Chu et al., 2009; Dai et al., 2009; Gao et al.,
2010; Hu et al., 2009; Kong et al., 2009; Li et al., 2011; Liu et al.,
2007; Miao et al., 2010; Wang et al., 2007; Xu and Milliman,
2009; Yang et al., 2002, 2007, 2011; Zhang et al., 2008, 2009;
Zhu et al., 2008). However, except Gupta and Chakrapani (2005,
2007) and Panda et al. (2011), not many recent studies documented the changes in sediment uxes of the Indian peninsular
rivers. Additionally, no further attempt has been made to quantify
the overall impact of construction of dams, on annual sediment
uxes at regional scale and to revise the annual sediment exports
from the rivers draining through Indian subcontinent. Recent study
by Panda et al. (2011) relates the sharp decline in annual sediment
loads of the most peninsular rivers with climatic factors, which
seems to be only partly true. According to Indias National Register
of Large Dams-2009 (In-NROLD, 2009) there are about 4711 completed large dams (as per ICOLD denitions) and another 390 are
under construction. Among these large dams, 78 are mega dams
(61 completed and 17 under construction; Fig. 1) and are considered of national importance. Therefore, besides modications in
sediment uxes due to change in rainfall (Panda et al., 2011) the
overall impact of these dams cannot be ignored and warrant a
thorough investigation. Note that in case of the peninsular rivers,
regular sediment load measurement started by the year 1965
(IHDB, 2009). However, as of 1965, there were already about 13
mega and 900 large dams on the Indian rivers (In-NROLD, 2009)
and thus, making it difcult to estimate pre-dam sediment loads.
In the wake of present development, our study provides a new
set of data for the large peninsular rivers and shows the impacts of
dams on annual sediment delivery. Here we use annual sediment
load data of 10 large rivers, spanning a considerable length of time
(Appendix A); thus providing reliable, precise and updated information on sediment uxes of the Indian peninsular rivers. Given
the unique status of the Asian rivers, in terms of densely populated
catchments with relatively greater annual sediment uxes to the
coastal seas, construction of dams and other anthropogenic activities will affect the overall sediment transportation by these rivers.
Therefore, based on the present knowledge and recently published
data, we also provide a revised estimate on sediment uxes of the
large rivers draining ESSE Asian region.

2. Study area and methods

Ten large peninsular rivers with catchment areas of >20,000 km2
(Appendix A), were studied to estimate present day suspended sediment uxes to the coastal seas and to examine the modication in
annual sediment loads during the recent decades (Fig. 1). Among
them, rivers such as Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi, Cauvery, Pennar
and Brahmani discharge into the Bay of Bengal, whereas Narmada,
Tapti, Mahi and Sabarmati are owing into the Arabian Sea.
The catchments of these 10 large rivers together constitute an
area of 1.11  106 km2, which is more or less comparable to the


total catchment of the GangaBrahmaputra system in India

(1.06  106 km2) (Jain et al., 2007). Himalayan rivers, GangaBrahmaputra and Indus, are characterized by high relief, deep valleys
and originate from glaciers. In contrast, the peninsular rivers run
through hard bedrock with gentle slope and mostly depend on seasonal monsoon rains for the ow. Although the peninsular rivers
are not as huge as the Himalayan rivers, they constitute an important water domain. The drainage areas of the peninsular rivers are
highly urbanized and support about 50% (600 million) of the total
Indian population.
Details of hydrological characteristics of these rivers, name and
geographical location of downstream gauge stations and the time
period of data used in this study, are provided in Appendix A. Multi-annual non-classied sediment load data, recently made available by Central Water Commission (CWC) government of India
( in the public domain, were used to evaluate the present day sediment load of the large peninsular rivers.
However, being transnational rivers, data accessibility remains a
major obstacle for estimating recent annual sediment loads of
the Ganga and the Brahmaputra rivers. The coastal sediment ux
estimate for the Ganga at Hoogly (India) and the GangaBrahmaputra at Mawa gauge station (Bangladesh) are revised using
data of Abbas and Subramanian (1984) and Islam et al. (1999),
respectively. The latest data for the Indus river, the large Chinese
rivers and the Southeast Asian rivers, were compiled from recent
publications (Inam et al., 2007; Tanabe et al., 2003; Winterwerp
et al., 2005; Le et al., 2007; Robinson et al., 2007; Wang et al.,
2007; Liu et al., 2008; Walling, 2008; Zhang et al., 2008; Dai
et al., 2009; Furuichi et al., 2009; Hu et al., 2009; Xue et al.,
2011). While choosing recent uxes estimates, preference was given to the studies involving long-term data of annual sediment
loads at extreme downstream gauge stations/sampling locations.
Annual rainfall data of the peninsular basins were taken from Ranade et al. (2007). The National Register of Large Dams, published
in 2009 (In-NROLD, 2009) provides information of mega dams in
India. We extracted information of mega dams in China and Southeast Asian countries, from published literature and Wikipedia.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Sediment ux of Indian subcontinent: past and present
3.1.1. Peninsular rivers
Table 1 summarizes average annual sediment loads of the 10
large peninsular rivers. For comparison, sediment loads of these
rivers are separated in three different columns (Table 1). Data provided by all of the previous studies are termed as Historical. The
column with title Long-term refers to the average annual sediment
loads, calculated from the data available with us (Appendix A) for a
particular river system. Average annual sediment loads observed
during the 10 most recent years is termed as Current. The Current
(i.e.10 years average) annual sediment loads (82.9 Mt; Table 1)
of the peninsular rivers, are remarkably lower than the historical
estimates (Ramesh and Subramanian, 1993; Vaithiyanathan et al.,
1988). However, in comparison to the previously estimated water
volume of 281 km3 yr 1 (Ramesh and Subramanian, 1993), at
present the large peninsular rivers are discharging 238 km3 yr 1
(Table 1). It is interesting that in contrary to 15% decline in water
discharge, overall sediment ux reduced by two-third. According
to Panda et al. (2011) a non-signicant decreasing trends in monsoon rainfall and frequent drought years, could be responsible for
the observed decline in sediment uxes. They opinioned that a
small change in rainfall towards the decit side, leads to a signicant reduction in sediment load. Fig. 2, however suggests either a
constant rainfall (Godavari, Tapti and Narmada) or shows an


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

Table 1
Large peninsular rivers: hydrological parameters of basin; present day water and sediment ux and comparison with previous estimates.
River and place
of origin





Water ux (km3 yr


Suspended sediment
ux (Mt yr 1)


Long termb

Change in annual
sediment load (%)A

Rivers owing into the Bay of Bengal

Godavari (Sahyadri Range)








Krishna (Mahadev Range)









Mahanadi (Maikala Range)









Cauvery (Sahyadri Range)












Pennar (Nandi Hills)












Brahmani (Ranchi Plateau)





























Rivers owing into the Arabian Sea

Narmada (Maikala Range)





Tapi (Satpura Range)





Mahi (Aravalli Range)





Sabarmati (Aravalli Range)
































Biksham and Subramanian (1980)d; 2Milliman and Syvitski (1992); 3Biksham and Subramanian (1988); 4Chandramohan et al. (2001); 5Ramesh and Subramanian
(1988)e; 6Ramesh and Subramanian (1993); 7Holeman (1968); 8Chakrapani and Subramanian (1990)f; 10Narayana and Babu (1983); 11Vaithiyananathan et al.
(1988)g; 12Gupta and Chakrapani (2005)


From Ramesh and Subramanian (1993).

For the maximum period as shown in Appendix A.
Average of 10 recent years (Appendix A).
Five years between 1969 and 1974.
Five years between 1984 and 1989.
Five years between 1980 and 1981, 1985 and 1986 (except 1984 and 1985).
For 9 years between 1971 and 1981 (except 1976 and 1977).
To calculate percentage decline in annual sediment load current estimates were compared with the historical estimates shown as bold.

insignicant increase (Mahandi and Krishna) in different large basins. Only the Cauvery river shows an insignicant declining trend
in annual rainfall (Fig. 2d), however its sediment load remains
constant. The annual water discharge of most of the large peninsular rivers (except Krishna) also remains largely unchanged. Thus,
changes in rainfall and water discharge could not explain, the notable decline in the annual sediment uxes of the large peninsular
In a study of the 292 large global river systems, Nilsson et al.
(2005) showed that in comparison to the Himalayan rivers (e.g.
GangaBrahmaputra) the large peninsular rivers are strongly
impacted due to river channel fragmentation and water ow
regulation by dams. It seems to be true as more than half of Indian

mega dams (41 already completed and 6 under construction) and

about 75% of large dams (about 3800) are located in the peninsular
region. Thus, the increasing number of dams across the peninsula
could be obvious reasons for the decline in the annual sediment
supply of the large rivers. Out of 41 mega dams, the Krishna and
the Godavari basins each host 9, followed by the Narmada (4),
Cauvery (3), Mahanadi (2) and the Mahi (2), whereas the Pennar,
Tapti, and the Brahmani each having one such dams (In-NROLD,
2009). After construction of nine mega dams, the annual sediment
load of the Krishna river has been reduced from 64 Mt to less than
1 Mt (Table 1). We estimated that between 1978 and 2003, two
mega dams on the Narmada mainstream, namely Bargi (upstream)
and Sardar Sarovar (downstream) together retained about 500 Mt

H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458


Fig. 2. Annual variations and trends in water discharge (km3) and sediment ux (Mt) at the terminal gauge stations of six large peninsular rivers. The annual rainfall (cm) data
(basin average) have also been plotted for reference. Vertical dashed lines represent the number of mega dams in basin with the year of closure. Note that in the recent past no
mega dam was constructed in the Cauvery and the Tapti basins.

of sediments. However, in absence of annual time series data,

quantifying the amount of sediment trapped by other three-mega
dams (one mainstream and two other on tributaries) in the Narmada basin remains difculty.
Time-series plots of six largest peninsular rivers (Fig. 2) show
the impact of construction of mega dams on annual water discharge and sediment uxes. Among these six rivers, the Cauvery
and the Tapti show insignicant trends in annual sediment delivery. Interestingly, in recent years no additional mega dams were
constructed in these two basins (Fig. 2d and e). In comparison to
Historical sediment loads, all six rivers showed a marked decrease
in the Current annual sediment uxes. The overall decline is about
67%, 74%, 87%, 80%, 41% and 95% for the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Tapti and the Narmada rivers, respectively (Fig. 2). The
rest of the large peninsular rivers also registered remarkable
decreases in the annual sediment uxes (Table 1).
3.1.2. Extra peninsular rivers (GangaBrahmaputra and Indus)
Milliman and Meade (1983) estimated that the Ganga
Brahmaputra and the Indus transport about 1670 and 100 Mt of
sediment annually into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea,
respectively. Abbas and Subramanian (1984) estimated that the
annual sediment load of the Ganga river at Farakka (10 km
upstream to IndiaBangladesh border) is about 729 Mt. Before

entering Bangladesh, the Ganga bifurcates into two distributaries,

one called the Hoogly (or Hooghly) river (the rst distributary of
the Ganga) ows in India and the other is known as the Padma river after entering into Bangladesh. A signicant portion of sediment
transported by the Ganga at Farakka is diverted into the Hooghly
distributary via a feeder canal. The annual sediment load transported by the Hoogly distributary into the Bay of Bengal accounts
for 328 Mt (Abbas and Subramanian, 1984). According to Islam
et al. (1999) between 1979 and 1995, the Ganga at Hardinge Bridge
(Bangladesh) annually transported 316 Mt of suspended sediments. Thus, annual ux numbers for the Ganga river at Harding
bridge are lower than the previous estimates, such as Coleman
(1969; 485 Mt), Milliman and Meade (1983; 680 Mt) and Hossain
(1991; 350600 Mt). In addition to differences in methods/periods
of measurements in these studies, the observed decrease in sediment load could also be due to construction of several mega dams
in the Ganga basin, closure of Farakka barrage (1974) and diversion
of sediments laden water into the Hoogly distributary.
The Brahmaputra river ows through Tibet in China (1600 km),
eastern India (900 km) and Bangladesh (400 km) and discharges
into the Bay of Bengal. Number of attempts have been made to
estimate the annual sediment load of the Brahmaputra river,
including Holeman (1968; 800 Mt), Coleman (1969; 617 Mt),
Milliman and Meade (1983; 1157 Mt) and Hossain (1991;


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

650 Mt). Recently, Islam et al. (1999) estimated that between 1989
and 1994, the Brahmaputra river (at Bahadurabad, Bangladesh)
annually transported 721 Mt of suspended sediments.
Based on 13 year long measurements (between 1979 and 1995)
at Mawa gauge station, Islam et al. (1999) provided, combined sediment load of the GangaBrahmaputra in Bangladesh. The Mawa
gauge station (located near to the mouth of GangaBrahmaputra
system) is about 160 km and 235 km downstream of Hardinge
Bridge and Bahadurabad gauge stations, respectively. According
to Islam et al. (1999), the combined sediment load (525 Mt) of
the GangaBrahmaputra at Mawa gauge (Fig. 1) station represents
the mean annual sediment input into the Bay of Bengal. Thus, the
Hoogly distributary (328 Mt) and the GangaBrahmaputra
(525 Mt) collectively transport about 853 Mt of sediments annually into the Bay of Bengal. Consequently, the revised estimates
of the GangaBrahmaputra are lower than the previous estimates
provided by Coleman (1969; 1130 Mt), Milliman and Meade
(1983; 1670 Mt), Milliman and Syvitski (1992; 1060 Mt). According to Islam et al. (1999) deposition of sediments upstream of
Mawa gauge station could be one of the main reasons.

Holeman (1968) estimated that the Indus river transports

440 Mt of sediment annually and later Milliman and Meade
(1983) revised it to 100 Mt yr 1. However, recent estimates by
Inam et al. (2007) tell a different story and explain how human
interventions, particularly construction of dams have modify natural processes of sediment transportation. Inam et al. (2007) presented annual sediment loads of the Indus river at Kotri Barrage
(270 km upstream from river mouth) during the last 73 years
and showed that the annual sediment load of the Indus river reduced drastically from 193 Mt (between 1931 and 1954) to
13 Mt (between 1993 and 2003). According to them, construction
of three large dams on the Indus river, namely Kotri Barrage,
Mangla and Terbela led to this situation causing annual water
discharge to reduce from 110 km3 to 37 km3. However, the possible inuences of four additional mega dams, Bhakra (1963; on
Sutlej river), Pong (1974; on Beas river), Salal (1986; on Chenab
rver) and Chamera (1994; on Ravi river) constructed in the
upstream watershed (in India) on sediment transport were not
considered. According to Inam et al. (2007) out of sixteen major
creeks forming the Indus delta, only one outlet (Khobar Creek)

Table 2
Historical and Current water discharge and sediment ux in of the large Asian rivers draining through Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia.

(103 km2)

Water discharge (km3 yr


341.91 (Table 1)
12355 (1981-spot samples)
1937 (19311954)
4798 (19541963)
2549 (19562002)
133010 (19501980)
11878 (19541963)
67.28 (19541963)
0.058 (19601969)
22.48 (19541963)
38.78 (19541963)
7.58 (19541963)
28 (19771986)
14514 (19622003)
165.813 (19601962)
36415 (18771878)
18815 (NA)
2518 (19601972)
10819 (19601969)

832 (Table 1)
8506 Ganga (19791995)
Brahmaputra (19891994)


137 (19932003)


2798 (19962005)
1569 (20032008)


1938 (19962005)


52.78 (19962005)


0.0078 (19962005)


5.18 (19962005)





Yellow (Huangho)


Zhujiang (Pearl)









Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady)














Salween (Thanlwin)
Chao Phraya
Red (Hungho)


Change in annual
sediment load (%)A

Current (period)



Historical (period)






Annual sediment load (Mt yr


Indian peninsular rivers



2.7 (19962005)


2.48 (19962005)
1.6012 (19962005)
16813 (19972002)


32516 (19661996)

18815 (NA)



36.319 (20002008)



Ramesh and Subramanian (1993); 2 Present study; 3 Milliman and Meade (1983); 4 Hovius (1998); 5 Abbas and Subramanian (1984); 6 Islam et al. (1999); 7 Inam et al. (2007);
Dai et al. (2009); 9 Hu et al. (2009); 10 Wang et al. (2007); 11 Zhang et al. (2008); 12 Liu et al. (2008); 13 Walling (2008); 14 Xue et al. (2011); 15 Robinson et al. (2007); 16 Furuichi
et al. (2009); 17 Tanabe et al. (2003); 18 Winterwerp et al. (2005); 19 Dang et al. (2010).
To calculate percentage decline in annual sediment load current estimates were compared with the historical estimates shown as bold.

H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

now receives the Indus water downstream to Kotri Barrage, thus

leading to an ecological disaster and increased coastal erosion.
Our estimate suggests that the present day annual sediment
supply to the coastal seas from the Indian subcontinent is approximately 950 Mt, which is signicantly lower than previous estimates. Though, there is no dam on the Brahmaputra presently,
however at least two mega dams, Subansiri on the Subansari river
(India; to be completed by 2012) and Zangmu dam on the
Brahmaputra mainstream (China; to be completed by 2015) are
under construction. In contrast, the Ganga basin already has 13
mega dams and ve more are under construction. With impoundment of the Ganga mainstream by Tehri dam (2005) and completion of other mega dams in the Ganga basin, sediment ux is
bound to decrease in the near future.
3.2. Latest estimates of large East and Southeast Asian rivers
3.2.1. East Asia (China mainland)
Table 2 compares Historical and Current annual sediment uxes
of the large Asian rivers. In a regional scale study, Dai et al. (2009)
estimated that over the past 50 years (between 1954 and 2005),
nine large Chinese rivers collectively transported 1360 km3 of
water and 1313 Mt of sediments annually. However, by giving decadal-scale data, they further elaborated that annual sediment
transport by these rivers reduced by 70% during the last half century, from 1809 Mt (19541963) to 540 Mt (19962005). Recent
studies by Zhang et al. (2008), Hu et al. (2009) and Kong et al.
(2009) provided revised sediment uxes of the Zhujiang (Pearl),
Yangtze and the Yellow rivers, respectively (Table 2) and suggested
that the Current combined sediment ux of these three rivers is
about 360 Mt yr 1. Among the large Asian rivers, the Yellow river
provides an excellent example of the reduction in annual sediment
loads, caused by a combination of human activities and recent climate change. Before the commissioning of large dams, the annual
sediment input of the Yellow river (between 1919 and 1960) was
about 1200 Mt (Chien and Zhou, 1965). However, between the year
2000 and 2005, Yellow river delivered only 150 Mt of sediment
annually into the Bohai sea (Kong et al., 2009). Thus, the annual
sediment loads of the large Chinese rivers reduced from 1800 Mt
(Milliman, 1995; Milliman and Meade, 1983) to about 415 Mt in
the recent years. Note that present day collective sediment ux
of all the large Chinese rivers (draining > 4  106 km2 area) is just
double of the annual sediment ux from Taiwan island (195 Mt;
Kao and Milliman, 2008). Chu et al. (2009) estimated the amounts
of sediment trapped in the basins of the Yellow (17.5 Gt), Yangtze
(4.54 Gt), Haihe (1.74 Gt) and Liaohe (1.26 Gt), and projected that
for the nine large Chinese rivers, the total amount of sediment
trapped by the dams and reservoirs (>85,000) between 1959 and
2007, is about 28 Gt.
3.2.2. Southeast Asia
IrrawaddySalween (into Andaman Sea), Mekong, Red and Chao
Phraya (into South China Sea) are the large Southeast Asian rivers.
Similar to the large Chinese and Indian rivers, the Red river also
registered a drastic decline (70%) in annual sediment ux, which
reduced from 130 Mt (Milliman and Meade, 1983) to 36 Mt (Dang
et al., 2010). Due to construction of Bhumipol (1965) and Sirikit
(1972) dams, annual sediment ux of the Chao Phraya river in
Thailand reduced by >80%, from 25 Mt (before 1965) to 5 Mt by
the 1990s (Winterwerp et al., 2005). Annual sediment ux of the
Mekong river remains almost unchanged from 160 Mt (Milliman
and Meade, 1983) to 168 Mt (Walling, 2008). Robinson et al.
(2007) revised the annual sediment budget for the Irrawaddy
Salween system from 360 Mt (Hovius, 1998) to 600 Mt. Thus,
despite a decline in the annual sediment load of the Red and the
Chao Phraya rivers, due to revised sediment ux of Irrawaddy


Salween system, the collective sediment load from Southeast Asia

increased from 572 Mt (Hovius, 1998; Milliman and Meade, 1983)
to 810 Mt (Table 2).
3.3. Revised sediment budget of East-Southeast and South Asia
At present the collective annual sediment ux of 27 large rivers
draining through ESSE Asian region, is about 2150 Mt. In addition,
coastal rivers (<20,000 km2) draining East Asia (China mainland
and Taiwan), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar,
Thailand, Borneo and Brunei) and South Asia (India, Pakistan,
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) together discharge 760 km3 of water
and contribute about 400 Mt of sediments to the coastal seas
annually (Milliman and Farnsworth, 2011). Thus, the total annual
sediment ux of large and coastal rivers draining ESSE Asia is about
2550 Mt. This implies that present day annual sediment ux is less
than half of the previous estimate (6350 Mt) by Milliman and
Meade (1983). Previous studies (Milliman, 1995; Milliman and
Meade, 1983; Milliman and Syvitski, 1992) suggest that the large
rivers draining the ESSE region contribute about 4050% of the
worlds sediment ux, however the present estimate suggests a
remarkably reduced contribution from these rivers to the global
sediment budget. In comparison to earlier estimation of a
2530% trapping of sediments by dams across the Asia and globe
(Syvitski et al., 2005; Vorosmarty et al., 2003) data compiled in
the present study suggest a relatively higher sediment trapping
(>70%) behind dams in most of the large Asian rivers basins.
3.4. Reduced sediment load: causes and implications
In recent years, studies on riverine sediment uxes to the
oceans and the sediment transportation processes have received
more attention as annual variations in sediment uxes have become an ideal index for measuring the effects of climate change
and human activities in the river basins (Wang et al., 2007).
Fig. 1, provides an exclusive illustration of the spatial distribution
(along with ground elevation) of mega dams located across ESSE
Asian region. Note that before 1960, there were only 25 mega dams
in ESSE Asia, whereas in last 50 years (19612010) about 180 mega
dams have been commissioned and 40 mega dams are under construction (to be completed by 2020). Construction of mega dams at
elevated regions (>1000 m) could be one of the main reasons for
reduced sediment loads (Fig. 1), since headwater regions serve as
the main source of sediments in most of these rivers. In order to
understand the impact of these mega dams on sediment transport,
we compared the decadal variations in sediment loads and the
number of the mega dams present in the catchments of large rivers
(Fig. 3). Apparently, there is a signicant inverse correlation
(r2 > 0.9) between the number of dams and decadal sediment
uxes, suggesting a strong control of mega dams on the sediment
transport regime across the region. It also implies that the amount
of sediment trapped by mega dams is far greater than that of the
cumulative amount trapped by several hundred large and tens of
thousands of smaller reservoirs. Our observations are broadly in
agreement with Chu et al. (2009) who pointed out that between
1959 and 2007, Chinas 52 largest reservoirs together trapped
25 Gt of sediments. According to their estimates, the overall
amount of trapped sediment is about 28 Gt; implying that the rest
of the large and smaller dams (>80,000), together accounted for
only a 12% decline in historical sediment uxes. It could be due
to the relatively smaller storage capacity of small dams, as they
are mainly constructed for local irrigation purposes. Once lled
with water during early rains, they allow excess water to ow into
the larger ones. Even the storing capacity of large dams (>0.5 to
< 1.0 km3) is normally not enough to accommodate huge inux
during big ood-events (major-events) and thus allowing sediment


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

laden excess water to ow downstream. If there is a mega dam

downstream, it will store this large amount of ood-water for a
longer time, consequently allowing suspended sediment to be
deposited in the reservoir.
In order to understand the role of mega dams in retaining sediments, we examined 13 years (19871999) long daily sediment
load data of the monsoon seasons (June to November) at upstream
(Rajghat) and downstream (Garudeshwar) gauge stations of a
mega dam (Sardar Sarovar) in the Narmada basin. Sardar Sarovar
dam is among the largest dams in India, with maximum water
storage capacity of 9.5 km3. Sardar Sarovar dams construction
was started in 1979 and completed 2006 (Jain et al., 2007). Fig. 4,
demonstrates time-series of daily sediment ux at Rajghat and
Garudeshwar gauge stations. It is evident that in contrast to Rajghat, daily sediment ux from Garudeshwar shows declining trend.
Based on daily sediment load data, we calculated that between
1987 and 1999, the Sardar Sarovar dam retained about 225 Mt of
sediment. To understand the transportationretention mechanism
behind the mega dam, we compared changes in the daily sediment
loads between these two-gauge stations. In order to facilitate comparison, we classied the daily sediment uxes in three different
transport regimes (Fig. 5), specically <0.1 Mt (non-event), P0.1
to < 1 Mt (event) and P1 Mt (major-event). It is clear from Fig. 5,
that during these 13 years, total sediment ux during non-event regimes of both stations were comparable (Rajghat 22 Mt vs.
Garudeshwar 23 Mt). We calculated (Fig. 5) that during event regimes sediment ux from Rajghat (154 Mt) was higher than that
at Garuseshwar (120 Mt) which means that the collective sediment
ux during non-event and event transport regimes, only accounts
for a loss of 32 Mt, between upstream (Rajghat) and downstream
of dam (Garudeshwar). While looking into the major-event driven
discharge, it was observed that major-event regimes account for
65% and 48% of the annual sediment transport at Rajghat and
Garudeshwar, respectively. We estimated that during major-event
transport regimes, the Narmada river carried about 330 Mt and
136 Mt of sediments to Rajghat and Garudeshwar gauge stations,
respectively (Fig. 5). This implies that a huge amount of sediment
(194 Mt) discharged from Rajghat during major-events were
sequestered by the reservoir in the period of 13 years (Fig. 5) and
it accounts for about 86% of total sediment load being trapped by
the Sardar Sarovar dam. Thus, storage of sediment-laden water of
big ood events (or major-events) could to be one of the best explanations to comprehend that why huge amount of sediment are
being trapping by the mega dams. Most of the mega dams may follow the similar mechanism as shown by us, however due to paucity of daily sediment load data in scientic arena, it may be
difcult to corroborate in the cases of other mega dams.
So far, we have argued that construction of dams and reservoirs,
particularly the mega ones, across the large Asian rivers is the major
cause for reducing annual sediment uxes. However, Chu et al.
(2009) quantied that between the year 1959 and 2007, soil conservation programs, increased water consumption and sand mining,
have resulted in reducing the amount of sediment delivered to
the coastal seas by 11.5 Gt (Yangtze 1.2 Gt; Yellow 11.5 Gt),
7.5 Gt (Yellow 7.1 Gt) and 3.0 Gt (Yangtze 1.5 Gt; Pearl
0.8 Gt), respectively. Interestingly, combine loss in coastal sediment
deliveries due to above said reasons (22.0 Gt), is comparable with
the reduction caused by dams (28.0 Gt). Similar to the large Chinese
rivers, these additional factors may also be responsible for decline
in the annual sediment-uxes of the rest large Asian rivers. Among
the large South and Southeast Asian rivers, only Krishna and Indus
showed a decline in the annual water discharge due to increased
consumption. Besides, not much is known about the extent and
success of soil conservation measures and the role of sand mining
activities in South and Southeast Asia in reducing annual sediment
uxes. Paucity of reliable data on sediment ux reduction due to

soil conservation measures and sand mining in the Southeast and

South Asian rivers, however limits our argument.
Rainfall has been widely understood to have a predominant
inuence on water discharge and suspended sediment uxes
(Milliman and Syvitski, 1992; Syvitski, 2003). Decline in rainfall
has been shown to result in reduced sediment loads (Yellow river;
(Xu, 2003); whereas, increased frequency and intensity of extreme
events may increase sediment production and downstream transportation. It is understood that extreme rain events control erosion
and sediment transportation across the globe (Biksham and Subramanian, 1988; Chakrapani and Subramanian, 1990; Gupta and
Chakrapani, 2007; Kao and Milliman, 2008; Meade and Parker,
1985; Nordin, 1985). Recently, Goswami et al. (2006) illustrated
that in spite of considerable year-to-year variability, there is significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of extreme
monsoon rain events in central India over the past 50 years
(19502000). Moreover, Singh et al. (2008) showed that for the
entire northwest and central India, the annual rainfall increased
by 5.2% of mean per 100 years. Although, there is no signicant
decline in annual rainfall in recent years (Fig. 2), increased rainfall
intensity and frequency of extreme rain events may erode more
sediments, thus increasing the sediment load of the peninsula rivers. So far no quantitative assessments addressing changes in the
sediment loads, due to climatic variability and/or human inuence
(except dams) for most of the Indian and the other Asian rivers
(except China) are available; therefore, it remains open for
speculations and further studies.
A continuous annual supply of huge sediment loads from the
large Asian rivers helped in forming and evolving some of the
worlds largest deltas. However, in recent times many of these deltas are shrinking, due to considerable decrease in sediment supply
from the rivers, continuous subsidence, increased coastal erosion
and sea level rise. Syvitski et al. (2009) revealed that declines in
the annual sediment loads (>70%) to many of the large Asian deltas
such as, Chao Phraya, Krishna, Pearl, Yangtze and the Yellow are
causing them to sink at rates many times faster than global sea level rise and classied them as deltas in greater peril. Syvitski et al.
(2009) placed the worlds largest delta of the Ganga river with Irrawaddy and Mekong in deltas in peril category, dened as reduction
in aggradation plus accelerated compaction overwhelming rates of
global sea-level rise. Many other Asian deltas, such as Brahmani,
Godavari, Indus and Mahanadi also come among deltas at greater
risk category, dened as reduction in aggradation, where rates no
longer exceed relative sea-level rise (Syvitski et al., 2009).
It is estimated that global rivers contribute about 95% of present
day sediment uxes entering into the oceans (Syvitski, 2003).
Riverine sediment transport accounts for more than 90% of the
total river-borne uxes of the immobile elements, such as P, Ni,
Mn, Cr, Pb, Fe and Al (Martin and Meybeck, 1979) and about 45%
of riverine organic carbon from the land to the oceans in particulate (POC) form (Ludwig et al., 1996). This implies that reduction
in annual sediment uxes to coastal seas will have a direct
inuence on oceanic primary productivity, since many of these
elements are used by phytoplankton as micronutrients.
Denudation of continental rocks, transfers via rivers to the
marine environment and subsequent sedimentation are important
processes of the rock cycle that operate at geological time scales.
Therefore, sediments retained by dams/reservoirs may not have a
considerable impact on either rock cycle or geochemical cycle of
different elements at this time scale, due to small active age of
reservoirs (mostly few decades) and subsequent dismantling
of these structures will open the way to release deposited sediments
to nally be transported to the oceans. However, at relatively
shorter time scale (i.e. decadal, centennial and millennial), any
large-scale modication in riverine sediment uxes to coastal
environment would strongly inuence a variety of natural pro-

H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458


Fig. 3. Decline in sediment ux of large Asian rivers coincides with an increasing number of mega dams in respective catchments at a decadal scale. A similar inverse
correlation exists for China, with growing numbers of mega dams, the sediment load reduced notably.


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

Fig. 4. Time series of daily sediment ux during monsoon seasons (June to November) of 13 years at Rajghat and Garudeshwar gauge stations on Narmada mainstream.

Fig. 5. Variations in collective sediment ux during non-event (<0.1 Mt), event (P0.1 to <1.0 Mt) and major event (P1.0 Mt) regime from Rajghat (upstream) and
Garudeshwar (downstream of mega dam). Estimations are based on daily sediment load measurements of monsoon seasons (June to November) of 13 years. Out of 225 Mt of
sediment retained behind the dam, sediment transported during major-events accounts for about 86% of total. The number of days with major events declined from 112 at
Rajghat to 65 at Garudeshwar. n symbolizes number of total days in each catergory.

cesses, leading to greater socio-economic, environmental and ecological consequences.

4. Conclusion
The present study provides updated estimates on the annual
sediment loads of the 10 large peninsular rivers and re-estimates

the overall annual sediment uxes of the large rivers draining

through East (China mainland), South (Indian subcontinent) and
Southeast (Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia)
Asian countries to the coastal seas. According to revised estimates,
the Current annual sediment ux of the large rivers in ESSE region
is about 2150 Mt and reaches 2550 Mt, when contributions from
the coastal rivers added. Among the large rivers discussed here,

H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

other than the IrrawaddySalween system and the Mekong, the rest
of the rivers registered 2090% decreases in their annual sediment
uxes. On an average, annual sediment uxes of the nine large
Chinese rivers reduced by >75%, in the last ve decades. Ten large
Indian peninsular rivers also registered similar declines (>75%),
however this happened mostly in the last 34 decades. Between
1930 and 2003, the sediment load of the Indus river dramatically
reduced by >90%. Among the Southeast Asian rivers, the annual sediment load of the Chao Pharya and the Red river reduced by 83% and
75%, respectively. Up until now, construction of several tens of
thousands of dams across the ESSE Asian region and particularly
in China and India has been considered as main reason for the
declining delivery of uvial sediments. It seems to be true, as in
the last ve-six decades, China alone built 5340 large dams (higher
than 30 m) whereas in India, the number of large dams (higher than
15 m) erected in same period is 3118. However, we have found that
it is not the several tens of thousands dams, but this is basically due
to about 250 mega dams, which restrict downstream transport of
7090% of sediment load. This nding is evident from the strong
inverse correlation between the number of mega dams and sediment loads at a decadal-scale, across the region. While using daily
sediment load data of two monitoring stations, upstream and
downstream of a mega dam, we exemplify and suggest a possible
mechanism to explain, why the mega dams trap huge amount of
sediments. We found that storage of event-driven (major-events)
ood-water, results in the sequestering of huge amounts of sediments behind the mega dams. The present day uvial sediment
uxes may further decline with the closure of several additional under-construction mega dams in the ESSE Asian region. Despite, we
demonstrate mega dams as the main cause of decline in sediment
uxes, yet it is also important to remember that with ever-growing
population and increasing need of power and water for domestic,
industrial and agricultural necessities at present mega dams seems
to be the only option to serve multiple-purposes.
We are thankful to Narmada Basin Organization, Bhopal, Central Water Commission India, for proving annual water discharge
and sediment load data of the Narmada river. Besides, this study
beneted from availability of the annual water discharge and sediment load data released by CWC, India in public domain. This
work was supported by National Science Foundation of China
(NSFC Grant Nos. 41176059 and 41121091). We appreciate J.D.
Milliman and K. Selvaraj for giving valuable suggestions to improve
the manuscript. We are grateful to AE Ellen Wohl and Des Walling
for their thoughtful reviews and comments.
Appendix A. Supplementary material
Supplementary data associated with this article can be found, in
the online version, at
Abbas, N., Subramanian, V., 1984. Erosion and sediment transport in the Ganges
river basin (India). J. Hydrol. 69 (14), 173182.
Biksham, G., Subramanian, V., 1980. Chemical and sediment mass-transfer in the
Godavari River Basin in India. J. Hydrol. 46 (34), 331342.
Biksham, G., Subramanian, V., 1988. Sediment transport of the Godavari River Basin
and its controlling factors. J. Hydrol. 101 (14), 275290.
Chakrapani, G.J., Subramanian, V., 1990. Factors controlling sediment discharge in
the Mahanadi River Basin, India. J. Hydrol. 117 (14), 169185.
Chakrapani, G.J., Subramanian, V., 1993. Rates of erosion and sedimentation in the
Mahanadi river basin, India. J. Hydrol. 149 (14), 3948.


Chandramohan, P., Jena, B.K., Kumar, V.S., 2001. Littoral drift sources and sinks
along the Indian coast. Curr. Sci. 81 (3), 292297.
Chen, Z., Li, J., Shen, H., Wang, Z., 2001. Yangtze River of China: historical analysis of
discharge variability and sediment ux. Geomorphology 41 (23), 7791.
Chien, N., Zhou, W., 1965. Channel Processes of the Lower Yellow River. Science
Press, Beijing (in Chinese).
Chu, Z.X. et al., 2009. A quantitative assessment of human impacts on decrease in
sediment ux from major Chinese rivers entering the western Pacic Ocean.
Geophys. Res. Lett. 36.
Coleman, J.M., 1969. Brahmaputra river: channel processes and sedimentation. Sed.
Geol. 3 (23), 129239.
Dai, S.B., Yang, S.L., Li, M., 2009. The sharp decrease in suspended sediment supply
from Chinas rivers to the sea: anthropogenic and natural causes. Hydrol. Sci. J.
J. Sci. Hydrol. 54 (1), 135146.
Dang, T.H. et al., 2010. Long-term monitoring (19602008) of the river-sediment
transport in the Red River Watershed (Vietnam): temporal variability and damreservoir impact. Sci. Total Environ. 408 (20), 46544664.
Dearing, J.A., Jones, R.T., 2003. Coupling temporal and spatial dimensions of global
sediment ux through lake and marine sediment records. Global Planet. Change
39 (12), 147168.
Farnsworth, K.L., Milliman, J.D., 2003. Effects of climatic and anthropogenic change
on small mountainous rivers: the Salinas River example. Global Planet. Change
39 (12), 5364.
Furuichi, T., Win, Z., Wasson, R.J., 2009. Discharge and suspended sediment
transport in the Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar: centennial and decadal
changes. Hydrol. Process. 23 (11), 16311641.
Gao, P. et al., 2010. Trend and change-point analyses of streamow and sediment
discharge in the Yellow River during 19502005. Hydrolog. Sci. J. 55 (2), 275
Glover, I.C., Higham, C.F.W., 1996. New evidence for early rice cultivation in South,
Southeast and East Asia. In: H. D.R. (Ed.), The Origins and Spread of Agriculture
and Pastorlaism in Eurasia. UCL Press, London, pp. 413441.
Goswami, B.N., Venugopal, V., Sengupta, D., Madhusoodanan, M.S., Xavier, P.K.,
2006. Increasing trend of extreme rain events over India in a warming
environment. Science 314 (5804), 14421445.
Gupta, H., Chakrapani, G.J., 2005. Temporal and spatial variations in water ow and
sediment load in Narmada River Basin, India: natural and man-made factors.
Environ. Geol. 48 (45), 579589.
Gupta, H., Chakrapani, G.J., 2007. Temporal and spatial variations in water ow and
sediment load in the Narmada river. Curr. Sci. 92 (5), 679684.
Heun, M. et al., 1997. Site of einkorn wheat domestication identied by DNA
ngerprinting. Science 278 (5341), 13121314.
Holeman, J.N., 1968. The sediment yield of major rivers of the world. Water Resour.
Res. 4 (4), 737747.
Hossain, M.M., 1991. Total sediment load in the lower Ganges and Jumuna,
Bangladesh. Univ. Eng. Technol. 20, 15.
Hovius, N., 1998. Control on sediment supply by large rivers. In: McCabe, K.W.S.P.J.
(Ed.), Relative Role of Eustacy, Climate and Tectonism in Continental Rocks.
SEPM Special Publ. Society for Sedimentary Geology, pp. 316. <http://>.
Hu, B.Q. et al., 2009. Sedimentation in the Three Gorges Dam and the future trend of
Changjiang (Yangtze River) sediment ux to the sea. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 13
(11), 22532264.
IHDB, 2009. Integrated Hydrological Data Book: Non-Classied River Basins
Hydrological Data Directorate, Information Systems Organisation, Water
Planning & Projects Wing, Central Water Commission, New Delhi, pp. ix, 388p.
In-NROLD, 2009. National Register of Large Dams.
Inam, A. et al., 2007. The Geographic, Geological and Oceanographic Setting of the
Indus River Large Rivers: Geomorphology and Management. John Wiley & Sons
Ltd., West Sussex.
Islam, M.R., Begum, S.F., Yamaguchi, Y., Ogawa, K., 1999. The Ganges and
Brahmaputra rivers in Bangladesh: basin denudation and sedimentation.
Hydrol. Process. 13 (17), 29072923.
Jain, S.K., Agarwal, P.K., Singh, V.P., 2007. Hydrology and Water Resources of India.
Water Science and Technology Library, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg.
Kao, S.J., Milliman, J.D., 2008. Water and sediment discharge from small
mountainous rivers, Taiwan: The roles of lithology, episodic events, and
human activities. J. Geol. 116 (5), 431448.
Kong, Q.R., Jiang, C.B., Qin, J.J., Guo, B., 2009. Sediment transportation and bed
morphology reshaping in Yellow River Delta. Sci. China Ser. E Technol. Sci. 52
(11), 33823390.
Kummu, M., Varis, O., 2007. Sediment-related impacts due to upstream reservoir
trapping, the Lower Mekong River. Geomorphology 85 (34), 275293.
Le, T.P.Q., Garnier, J., Gilles, B., Sylvain, T., Van Minh, C., 2007. The changing ow
regime and sediment load of the Red River, Viet Nam. J. Hydrol. 334 (12), 199
Li, Q. et al., 2011. Impacts of the Gezhouba and Three Gorges reservoirs on the
sediment regime in the Yangtze River, China. J. Hydrol. 403 (34), 224233.
Liquete, C., Canals, M., Arnau, P., Urgeles, R., Durrieu de Madron, X., 2004. The
impact of humans on strata formation along Mediterranean margins.
Oceanography 17(4), 4251.
Liu, C., Sui, J., Wang, Z.-Y., 2008. Sediment load reduction in Chinese rivers. Int. J.
Sedim. Res. 23 (1), 4455.


H. Gupta et al. / Journal of Hydrology 464465 (2012) 447458

Liu, J.P. et al., 2007. Flux and fate of Yangtze river sediment delivered to the East
China Sea. Geomorphology 85 (34), 208224.
Ludwig, W., Probst, J.L., Kempe, S., 1996. Predicting the oceanic input of organic
carbon by continental erosion. Global Biogeochem. Cycles 10 (1), 2341.
Martin, J.-M., Meybeck, M., 1979. Elemental mass-balance of material carried by
major world rivers. Mar. Chem. 7 (3), 173206.
McNeill, J.R. (Ed.), 2000. Something New Under The Sun. WH Norton and Company,
New York/London.
Meade, R.H., Parker, R.S., 1985. Sediment in Rivers of the United States. US Geol.
Surv. Water Supply Paper 2275. US Geol. Surv., pp. 4960.
Meybeck, M., 2003. Global analysis of river systems: from Earth system controls to
Anthropocene syndromes. Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 358 (1440),
Miao, C., Ni, J., Borthwick, A.G.L., 2010. Recent changes of water discharge and
sediment load in the Yellow River basin, China. Prog. Phys. Geog. 34 (4), 541561.
Milliman, J.D., 1995. Sediment discharge to the ocean from small mountainous
rivers: the New Guinea example. Geo-Mar. Lett. 15 (34), 127133.
Milliman, J.D., Farnsworth, K.L., 2011. River Discharge to the Coastal Ocean: A
Global Synthesis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, viii, 384p.
Milliman, J.D., Meade, R.H., 1983. World-wide delivery of river sediment to the
oceans. J. Geol. 91 (1), 121.
Milliman, J.D., Syvitski, J.P.M., 1992. Geomorphic/Tectonic control of sediment
discharge to the ocean: the importance of small mountainous rivers. J. Geol.
100(5), 525544.
Narayana, D.V.V., Babu, R., 1983. Estimation of soil-erosion in India. J. Irrigat. Drain.
Eng. ASCE 109 (4), 419434.
Nilsson, C., Reidy, C.A., Dynesius, M., Revenga, C., 2005. Fragmentation and ow
regulation of the worlds large river systems. Science 308 (5720), 405408.
Nordin, J.C.F., 1985. The Sediment Loads of Rivers. Factors of Hydrology II John
Wiley, New York.
Panda, D.K., Kumar, A., Mohanty, S., 2011. Recent trends in sediment load of the
tropical (Peninsular) river basins of India. Global Planet. Change 75 (34), 108
Ramesh, R., Subramanian, V., 1986. Mass transport in the Krishna River basin. In:
H.R. F. (Ed.), Second Scientic Assembly of IAHS Drainage Basin Sediment
Delivery. IAHS, Albuquerque, pp. 185197.
Ramesh, R., Subramanian, V., 1988. Temporal, spatial and size variation in the
sediment transport in the Krishna River basin, India. J. Hydrol. 98 (12), 5365.
Ramesh, R., Subramanian, V., 1993. Geochemical characteristics of the major
tropical rivers of India. In: G.J. S. (Ed.), Hydrology of Warm Humid Regions.
International Association of Hydrological Sciences, Wallingford, Yokohama, pp.
Ranade, A.A., Singh, N., Singh, H.N., Sontakke, N.A., 2007. Characteristics of
hydrological wet season over different river basins of India. Indian Institute of
Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
Roberts, N., 1998. The Holocene: An Environmental History. Blackwell, Oxford.
Robinson, R.A.J. et al., 2007. The Irrawaddy river sediment ux to the Indian Ocean:
the original nineteenth-century data revisited. J. Geol. 115 (6), 629640.
Singh, P., Kumar, V., Thomas, T., Arora, M., 2008. Changes in rainfall and relative
humidity in river basins in northwest and central India. Hydrol. Process. 22 (16),
Syvitski, J.P.M., 2003. Supply and ux of sediment along hydrological pathways:
research for the 21st century. Global Planet. Change 39 (12), 111.
Syvitski, J.P.M. et al., 2009. Sinking deltas due to human activities. Nat. Geosci. 2
(10), 681686.

Syvitski, J.P.M., Vorosmarty, C.J., Kettner, A.J., Green, P., 2005. Impact of humans on
the ux of terrestrial sediment to the global coastal ocean. Science 308 (5720),
Tanabe, S. et al., 2003. Stratigraphy and Holocene evolution of the mud-dominated
Chao Phraya delta, Thailand. Quat. Sci. Rev. 22 (89), 789807.
Ter-Stepanian, G., 1988. Beginning of the technogene. Bull. Eng. Geol. Environ. 38
(1), 133142.
Vaithiyanathan, P., Ramanathan, A., Subramanian, V., 1988. Erosion, transport and
deposition of sediments by the tropical rivers of India. In: Bordas, M.P., Walling,
D.E. (Eds.), Sediment Budgets Proceedings of the Porto Alegre Symposium. IAHS,
Porto Alegre.
Vaithiyanathan, P., Ramanathan, A., Subramanian, V., 1992. Sediment transport in
the Cauvery River Basin sediment characteristics and controlling factors. J.
Hydrol. 139 (14), 197210.
Van Loon, A.J., 2001. Changing the face of the Earth. Earth Sci. Rev. 52 (4), 371379.
Vorosmarty, C.J. et al., 2003. Anthropogenic sediment retention: major global
impact from registered river impoundments. Global Planet. Change 39 (12),
Walling, D.E., 2008. The changing sediment load of the Mekong River. Ambio 37 (3),
Walling, D.E., Fang, D., 2003. Recent trends in the suspended sediment loads of the
worlds rivers. Global Planet. Change 39 (12), 111126.
Walling, D.E., Webb, B.W., 1983. Global patterns of erosion a changing
perspective. J. Geol. Soc. 140(March), 321321.
Wang, H. et al., 2007. Stepwise decreases of the Huanghe (Yellow River) sediment
load (19502005): impacts of climate change and human activities. Global
Planet. Change 57 (34), 331354.
Wilkinson, B.H., McElroy, B.J., 2007. The impact of humans on continental erosion
and sedimentation. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 119 (12), 140156.
Winterwerp, J.C., Borst, W.G., de Vries, M.B., 2005. Pilot study on the erosion and
rehabilitation of a mangrove mud coast. J. Coastal Res. 21 (2), 223230.
Xu, J.X., 2003. Sediment ux to the sea as inuenced by changing human activities
and precipitation: example of the Yellow River, China. Environ. Manage. 31 (3),
Xu, K.H., Milliman, J.D., 2009. Seasonal variations of sediment discharge from the
Yangtze River before and after impoundment of the Three Gorges Dam.
Geomorphology 104 (34), 276283.
Xue, Z., Liu, J.P., Ge, Q.A., 2011. Changes in hydrology and sediment delivery of the
Mekong River in the last 50 years: connection to damming, monsoon, and ENSO.
Earth Surf. Proc. Land. 36 (3), 296308.
Yang, S.L., Zhao, Q.-Y., Belkin, I.M., 2002. Temporal variation in the sediment load of
the Yangtze river and the inuences of human activities. J. Hydrol. 263 (14),
Yang, G. et al., 2007. Sediment rating parameters and their implications: Yangtze
River, China. Geomorphology 85 (34), 166175.
Yang, S.L., Milliman, J.D., Li, P., Xu, K., 2011. 50,000 dams later: Erosion of the
Yangtze River and its delta. Global Planet. Change 75 (12), 1420.
Zhang, S. et al., 2008. Recent changes of water discharge and sediment load in the
Zhujiang (Pearl River) Basin, China. Global Planet. Change 60 (34), 365380.
Zhang, Q., Xu, C.-Y., Singh, V.P., Yang, T., 2009. Multiscale variability of sediment
load and streamow of the lower Yangtze River basin: Possible causes and
implications. J. Hydrol. 368 (14), 96104.
Zhu, Y.-M., Lu, X.X., Zhou, Y., 2008. Sediment ux sensitivity to climate change: a
case study in the Longchuanjiang catchment of the upper Yangtze River, China.
Global Planet. Change 60 (34), 429442.