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Deltas critical to food production, fisheries health, storm protection

Delta: A place where sediment carried downstream by a river enters the sea, forming a fan of sand or mud. Although deltas make up just 1 percent of the world's land, they're home to more than half a billion people -- and to fertile ecosystems such as mangroves and marshes. Deltas also serve as economic hotspots, says hydrologist Efi Foufoula-Georgiou of the University of Minnesota. They support much of the world's fisheries, forest products and agriculture, and are food baskets for many nations. Scientists have found that deltas are disappearing at an alarming rate, however, affecting humans and many other species.

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