Entropy and optimality in river deltas [Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences]
The form and function of river deltas is intricately linked to the evolving structure of their channel networks, which controls
how effectively deltas are nourished with sediments and nutrients. Understanding the coevolution of deltaic channels and their
flux organization is crucial for guiding maintenance strategies of these highly stressed systems from a range of anthropogenic
activities. To date, however, a unified theory explaining how deltas self-organize to distribute water and sediment up to
the shoreline remains elusive. Here, we provide evidence for an optimality principle underlying the self-organized partition
of fluxes in delta channel networks. By introducing a suitable nonlocal entropy rate (
nER) and by analyzing field and simulated deltas, we suggest that delta networks achieve configurations that maximize the diversity
of water and sediment flux delivery to the shoreline. We thus suggest that prograding deltas attain dynamically accessible
optima of flux distributions on their channel network topologies, thus effectively decoupling evolutionary time scales of
geomorphology and hydrology. When interpreted in terms of delta resilience, high nER configurations reflect an increased ability to withstand perturbations. However, the distributive mechanism responsible for
both diversifying flux delivery to the shoreline and dampening possible perturbations might lead to catastrophic events when
those perturbations exceed certain intensity thresholds.
Publisher URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Pnas-RssFeedOfEarlyEditionArticles/~3/e9Y8VP18-Qs/1708404114.short
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