The impacts of runoff decrease and shoreline change on the salinity distribution in the wetlands of Liao River estuary, China

Zhang, Mingliang; Xu, Tianping; Jiang, Hengzhi

The wetland of Liao River estuary (LRE) in northeastern China is one of the best-preserved wetlands across the globe. However, it is extremely vulnerable to hydrological changes as well as other disturbances, particularly upstream river discharges and the reclamation from anthropogenic activities. In this study, a 3D hydrodynamic model was used to reproduce the flow patterns of the LRE and to explore the variation in salinity under different scenarios. Furthermore, the impact of river discharge and shoreline changes on the salinity distribution in the LRE was quantitatively analyzed and discussed through several simulation experiments. The model reasonably reconstructed the spatiotemporal variability and distribution of salinity in the Liao River estuary and the wetlands across intertidal areas. Increases in runoff were demonstrated to significantly decrease the mean salinity values of the estuary, with changes in salinity negatively correlated to the longitudinal distance from the estuary mouth. Moreover, the shoreline change caused by the construction of Panjin Port was observed to have an obvious influence on the salinity distribution of the LRE, particularly in the lower reaches of the Pink Beach wetland. Comparisons of the Liao River estuary residual flow fields under different shorelines revealed that the establishment of the port resulted in the diffusion of the runoff from the Daliao River due to the obstruction of the port body, which enhanced the tidal mixing effect and consequently weakened the dilution effect of freshwater entering the Pink Beach wetland. Overall, the current study should be helpful for offering a greater understanding of Suaeda heteroptera vegetation degradation in the LRE, China, and also provides a new perspective in investigating the degradation mechanism in other estuarine wetlands.



Zhang, Mingliang / Xu, Tianping / Jiang, Hengzhi: The impacts of runoff decrease and shoreline change on the salinity distribution in the wetlands of Liao River estuary, China. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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