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  1. Deltaic islands are distinct hydro-environmental zones with global significance in food security, biodiversity conservation, and fishery industry. These islands are the fundamental building blocks of many river deltas. However, deltaic islands are facing severe challenges due to intensive anthropogenic activities, sea level rise, and climate change. In this study, dynamic changes of deltaic islands in Wax Lake Delta (WLD) and Atchafalaya Delta (AD), part of the Atchafalaya River Delta Complex (ARDC) in Louisiana, USA, were quantified based on remote sensing images from 1991 to 2019 through a machine learning method. Results indicate a significant increase in deltaic islands area for the whole ARDC at a rate of 1.29 km2/yr, with local expansion rates of 0.60 km2/yr for WLD and 0.69 km2/yr for AD. All three parts of the WLD naturally prograded seaward, with the western part (WP) and central part (CP) expanding southwestward to the sea, while the eastern part (EP) prograding southeastwards. Differently from WLD, the three parts of AD irregularly expanded seaward under the impacts of anthropogenic activities. The WP and CP of the AD expanded respectively northwestwards and southwestwards, while the EP remained stable. Different drivers dominate the growth of deltaic islands in the WLD and AD. Specifically, fluvial suspended sediment discharge and peak flow events were responsible for the shift in the spatial evolution of WLD, while dredging and sediment disposal contributed to the expansion of AD. Tropical storms with different intensity and landing locations caused short-term deltaic island erosion or expansion. Tropical storms mainly generated erosion on the deltaic islands of the WLD, while causing transient erosion or siltation on the deltaic islands of the AD. In addition, high-intensity hurricanes that made landfall east of the deltas caused more erosion in the AD. Finally, sea level rise, at the current rate of 8.17 mm/yr, will not pose a threat to the deltaic island of WLD, while the eastern part of AD may be at risk of drowning. This study recognizes the complexity of factors influencing the growth of deltaic islands, suggesting that quantitative studies on the deltaic island extent are of critical for the restoration and sustainable management of the Mississippi River Delta and other deltas around the world. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Salt marshes are vulnerable to sea-level rise, sediment deficits, and storm impacts. To remain vertically resilient, salt marshes must accrete sediment at rates greater or equal to sea-level rise. Ice-rafted debris (IRD), sediment that has been moved and deposited from ice sheets, is one of many processes that contribute to salt marsh sediment accretion in northern latitudes. On 4 January 2018, a winter storm caused major ice mobilization in the Plum Island Estuary (PIE), Massachusetts, USA, which led to large deposits of ice-rafted sediment. We aimed to quantify the volume and mass of deposited sediment, and evaluate the significance of IRD to sediment supply in Plum Island using pixel-based land-cover classification of aerial imagery collected by an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and a Digital Elevation Model. Field measurements of patch thickness, and the area of IRD determined from the classification were used to estimate annual sediment accretion from IRD. Results show that IRD deposits are localized in three areas, and estimates show that IRD contributes an annual sediment accretion rate of 0.57 ± 0.14 mm/y to the study site. New England salt marsh accretion rates typically vary between 2–10 mm/y, and the average PIE sediment accretion rate is 2.5–2.7 mm/y. Therefore, this event contributed on average 20% of the annual volume of material accreted by salt marshes, although locally the deposit thickness was 8–14 times the annual accretion rate. We show that pixel-based classification can be a useful tool for identifying sediment deposits from remote sensing. Additionally, we suggest that IRD has the potential to bring a significant supply of sediment to salt marshes in northern latitudes and contribute to sediment accretion. As remotely sensed aerial imagery from UASs becomes more readily available, this method can be used to efficiently identify and quantify deposited sediment. 
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  3. The water discharge and sediment load have been increasingly altered by climate change and human activities in recent decades. For the Pearl River, however, long-term variations in the sediment regime, especially in the last decade, remain poorly known. Here we updated knowledge of the temporal trends in the sediment regime of the Pearl River at annual, seasonal and monthly time scales from the 1950s to 2020. Results show that the annual sediment load and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) exhibited drastically decreased, regardless of water discharge. Compared with previous studies, we also found that sediment load and SSC reached a conspicuous peak in the 1980s, and showed a significant decline starting in the 2000s and 1990s, respectively. In the last decade, however, water discharge and sediment load showed slightly increasing trends. At the seasonal scale, the wet-season water discharge displays a decreasing trend, while the dry-season water discharge is increasing. At the monthly scale, the flood seasons in the North and East Rivers typically occur one month earlier than that in the West River due to the different precipitation regimes. Precipitation was responsible for the long-term change of discharge, while human activities (e.g. dam construction and land use change) exerted different effects on the variations in sediment load among different periods. Changes in the sediment regime have exerted substantial influences on downstream channel morphology and saltwater intrusion in the Greater Bay Area. Our study proposes a watershed-based solution, and provides scientific guidelines for the sustainable development of the Greater Bay Area. 
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