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Palanques, A., Guillén, J.: Coastal changes in the Ebro delta: Natural and human factors. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 4: 17-26, 1998.


Abstract. The development of the delta of the River Ebro (Ebre) has, during recent centuries, been controlled by both natural and man-induced factors. Deforestation by man of the Ebro drainage basin favoured a fast progradation of the deltaic system until this century, when many dams were constructed along the river Ebro and its tributaries. As the sediment load of the river has been retained behind the dams, the river sediment discharge has been drastically reduced and erosive processes have become dominant in the Ebro delta coastal area, changing it from a river-wave to a sea-wave-dominated coast. This situation leads to a reshaping of the nearshore delta area and a redistribution of the pre-existing beach sediment, and significant erosion has already occurred in some zones. If these conditions continue in the future, severe changes will take place in the Ebro delta, in addition to the effects of a relative sea level rise. The future development of this delta may be similar to that of abandoned deltaic lobes, but faster. The present study shows how coastal changes generated by anthropogenic factors can be faster and more drastic than those induced only by natural factors.

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