Windom, H.L. and Palmer, J.D., 2022. Changing river discharge and suspended sediment transport to the Georgia Bight: Implications to saltmarsh sustainability. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(3), 512–522. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Suspended sediment delivered in river discharge to the Georgia Bight (the coastal-shelf area of the SE U.S. Atlantic coasts of Georgia and South Carolina) provides a continuous supply of fine grain sediments to support coastal saltmarshes. Archived data on discharge and suspended sediment loads for Piedmont and Coastal Plain rivers collected over eight to nine decades were used to estimate the present rate of sediment discharge to the Bight to be about 1 × 106 metric tons annually. The data used in this assessment are for the period after major reservoir/dam construction and other streamflow diversions occurring during the 1950s–1970s, which had a major effect on sediment yields of SE Atlantic watersheds. The estimated annual sediment delivery is about two-thirds of that needed to maintain vertical saltmarsh stability as sea level rises at the present regional rate of 3.3 mm/y. The observed 2% per decade decreasing trend in river discharge to the Bight, related to rapid population and temperature rise since ca. 1960, and the continual depletion of sediment stored in river floodplains below dams, suggests that the fine sediment supply to the coast will continue to decline.

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