Study of the dispersion of fresh water (from the Scheldt and the Rhine/Meuse) by the interpretation of images from NOAA AVHRR, ERS-1/2 ATSR and ERS-1/2 SAR

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Context and objectives

Project outcome

Expected scientific results

- In contrast to many river plumes world-wide, the Scheldt plume does not have a clear Sea Surface Temperature (SST) signature and can not, therefore, be distinguished on infra-red imagery.
- The SST signature of the Rhine plume, which arises from the different response to surface heating between well-mixed ambient and haline stratified plume waters, is difficult to discern most of the time with favourable conditions limited to sunny, cloud-free days.
- NOAA AVHRR is likely to remain, for the foreseeable future, the prime instrument for physical oceanographers and marine managers requiring SST information.
- It is possible to achieve a reasonable measure, the so called "turbidity index", of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in turbid waters from visual- wavelength imagery even with a very limited spectral resolution.
- Neither the Rhine nor the Scheldt plume is discernible from visual imagery.
- An analytical model of wave current interaction has been developed which can be solved to give peak backscatter modulation as function of peak current gradient. radar look angle, wave spectral slope and relaxation rate. This model predicts that convergence zones produce high radar backscatter and shear zones produces high or low backscatter as function of radar look angle.
Project leader(s): IRSNB/KBIN - Directorate Natural Environment - Ecosystems data processing and modelling
Location: Region:
  • Belgian Coast,Rhine - Meuse delta