Environmental and human impacts on sediment transport of the largest Asian rivers of Russia and China

  • Sergey R. Chalov
  • Shuguang Liu
  • Roman S. Chalov
  • Ekaterina R. Chalova
  • Alexey V. Chernov
  • Ekaterina V. Promakhova
  • Konstantin M. Berkovitch
  • Aleksandra S. Chalova
  • Aleksandr S. Zavadsky
  • Nadezhda Mikhailova
Original Article


The paper deals with comparative summary of sediment loads and particulate trace metals (V, Cr, Co, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) transport in the largest Asian rivers of Russia and China. Environmental conditions and human interventions in the selected catchments (Lena, Ob, Enisey, Selenga, Kolyma, Amur, Yellow, Yangtze, Pearl) are analyzed with respect to the rate and composition of suspended sediment loads. The paper presents calculations of sediment load changes at the downstream sections of the rivers and new database of the chemical composition of suspended matter which involves all recent studies of the last decade for the sediment geochemistry. The results indicate that fluvial system and its human modifications are the most significant drivers of sediment load. Fluvial erosion in the unconfined channels exerts a significant control on the sediment load changes due to observed permafrost melting. We concluded that construction of reservoirs has the most important influence on land–ocean sediment fluxes in the largest rivers of Asia but plays relatively weak role in heavy metal composition in suspended particulate matter (SPM) due to lowest sedimentation rates of the fine clay particles, which are mostly enriched with heavy metals. The paper also presents novel mapping approaches related to cartographic recognition of the fluvial system and its human modification and sediment transfer processes in the largest Asian rivers of Russia and China, linked with a specific legend. Finally, analysis of uncertainties associated with estimating the SPM composition in the rivers was done with respect to spatial and temporal variability. It was shown that the main error occurs due to incorporation of data only from particular hydrological seasons which usually ignore high flood conditions.


Sediment transport Heavy metals Fluvial processes Dams Large rivers Russia China 



Field visits and contacts between co-authors are done under Russian Foundation for Basic Research Grant 16-55-53116. Fluvial processes inventory and mapping set up was done under implementation of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research Grant (Project No. 15-05-03752). The Selenga River studies were supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research Grant (17-29-05027). Geochemical analyses were supported by Russian Scientific Foundation Grant 14-27-00083. We thank anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7448_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergey R. Chalov
    • 1
  • Shuguang Liu
    • 2
  • Roman S. Chalov
    • 1
  • Ekaterina R. Chalova
    • 1
  • Alexey V. Chernov
    • 1
  • Ekaterina V. Promakhova
    • 1
  • Konstantin M. Berkovitch
    • 1
  • Aleksandra S. Chalova
    • 1
  • Aleksandr S. Zavadsky
    • 1
  • Nadezhda Mikhailova
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of GeographyM.V. Lomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Department of Hydraulic EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina

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