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Keywords:

  • coastal zone segmentation;
  • Earth system analysis;
  • global catchments;
  • riverine material transfer;
  • COSCAT

[1] Here we present the COSCATs global database of 151 catchments in exorheic areas. The catchments connect to oceans through coastal segments according to three sets of criteria: natural limits (continents, oceans, regional seas, major capes, and bays), continental shelf topography (sills, basins, island chains), and geophysical dynamics (climate, ocean currents and tectonics). The COSCATs segmentation scheme is designed to improve Earth System analysis and to harmonize reporting of global riverine transfers from land to oceans. Each COSCAT is characterized by its coastal segment limits and length (median 2 400 km), by its catchment characteristics, including area (median 0.45 M km2), width, latitudinal range, runoff average value and direction, including its related physiographic units (n = 500). We apply the COSCAT segmentation to all 151 basins to estimate water discharge and total nitrogen impacts to oceans and find that the average runoff (mm/yr) and N yields (YN in kg km−2 yr−1) range over more than 3 orders of magnitude at this coarse resolution, and that their average population density ranges over 2 orders of magnitude. Hyperactive regions, defined as segments with 5 to 10 times the world average yield (river transfers per unit area of land), are differentially placed for water runoff and total contemporary nitrogen. COSCATs have been designed to facilitate the budget reporting and the analysis of global scale heterogeneity for riverine fluxes and can be applied to other material, such as suspended solids, carbon species or other nutrients, particularly for areas draining into regional seas.