Decadal evolution of fluvial islands and its controlling factors along the lower Yangtze River

Jingtao Wu, Manman Fan, Huan Zhang, Muhammad Shaukat, James L. Best, Na Li, Chao Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluvial islands are vital from both morphological and ecological perspectives and consequently have been hotspots of morphodynamic research in large rivers around the world. This study selected 14 representative fluvial islands in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and explored their spatial-temporal evolution, including their shape and area dynamics during 1945–2016, by interpreting remote sensing images and analyzing the hydrological data. Results indicated that the total area of the 14 fluvial islands showed a growing trend at an average rate of 0.30 km2 yr−1 during the 72 years. The island Fenghuangzhou experienced the largest change in area, while Xiaohuangzhou (XHZ) had the smallest change in area. Sediment discharge and flooding were assumed to be the primary natural factors controlling the island dynamics. Furthermore, dam construction and bank reinforcement also played a critical role in preventing shoreline collapse, improving channel conditions, and promoting the stability of fluvial islands. From 1976 to 2016, the maximum erosion occurred on the left XHZ, while the maximum accretion was found on the Qingjiezhou island. Almost the entire river section experienced an accretion process on the right bank, which was assumed to be caused by the construction of erosion control structures. Besides, the dynamics of the fluvial islands along the lower Yangtze River appears to follow the erosion processes of the river bank. Our findings can provide an important reference for sustainable utilization and management of fluvial islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1388854
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
StatePublished - 2024


  • controlling factors
  • decadal evolution
  • fluvial island
  • remote sensing
  • Yangtze River

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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