Sediment delivery to sustain the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta under climate change and anthropogenic impacts

Jessica L. Raff*, Steven L. Goodbred*, Jennifer L. Pickering, Ryan S. Sincavage, John C. Ayers, Md Saddam Hossain, Carol A. Wilson, Chris Paola, Michael S. Steckler, Dhiman R. Mondal, Jean Louis Grimaud, Celine Jo Grall, Kimberly G. Rogers, Kazi Matin Ahmed, Syed Humayun Akhter, Brandee N. Carlson, Elizabeth L. Chamberlain, Meagan Dejter, Jonathan M. Gilligan, Richard P. HaleMahfuzur R. Khan, Md Golam Muktadir, Md Munsur Rahman, Lauren A. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The principal nature-based solution for offsetting relative sea-level rise in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta is the unabated delivery, dispersal, and deposition of the rivers’ ~1 billion-tonne annual sediment load. Recent hydrological transport modeling suggests that strengthening monsoon precipitation in the 21st century could increase this sediment delivery 34-60%; yet other studies demonstrate that sediment could decline 15-80% if planned dams and river diversions are fully implemented. We validate these modeled ranges by developing a comprehensive field-based sediment budget that quantifies the supply of Ganges-Brahmaputra river sediment under varying Holocene climate conditions. Our data reveal natural responses in sediment supply comparable to previously modeled results and suggest that increased sediment delivery may be capable of offsetting accelerated sea-level rise. This prospect for a naturally sustained Ganges-Brahmaputra delta presents possibilities beyond the dystopian future often posed for this system, but the implementation of currently proposed dams and diversions would preclude such opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2429
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023


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