Recent sediment flux to the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta system

Munsur Rahman, Maruf Dustegir, Rezaul Karim, Anisul Haque, Robert J. Nicholls, Stephen E. Darby, Hajime Nakagawa, Motahar Hossain, Frances E. Dunn, Marin Akter

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The physical sustainability of deltaic environments is very much dependent on the volume of water and sediment coming from upstream and the way these fluxes recirculate within the delta system. Based on several past studies, the combined mean annual sediment load of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) systems has previously been estimated to vary from 1.0 to 2.4 BT/year which can be separated into components flowing from the Ganges (260 to 680 MT/year) and Brahmaputra (390 to 1160 MT/year). Due to very limited data and small contribution of the Meghna system (6–12 MT/year) to the total sediment flux of the GBM system, the data of the Meghna is not considered in the analysis assuming the sediment flux from GB system as the sediment flux of GBM. However, in this paper our analysis of sediment concentration data (1960–2008) collected by Bangladesh Water Development Board shows that the sediment flux is much lower: 150 to 590 MT/year for the Ganges versus 135 to 615 MT/year for the Brahmaputra, with an average total flux around 500 MT/year. Moreover, the new analysis provides a clear indication that the combined sediment flux delivered through these two major river systems is following a declining trend. In most of the planning documents in Bangladesh, the total sediment flux is assumed as a constant value of around 1 billion tons, while the present study indicates that the true value may be around 50% lower than this (with an average decreasing trend of around 10 MT/year).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1064
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Brahmaputra
  • Ganges
  • GBM Delta
  • GBM system
  • Sediment flux

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