Estimating sediment and caesium-137 fluxes in the Ribble Estuary through time-series airborne remote sensing


Wakefield R, Tyler A, McDonald P, Atkin PA, Gleizon P & Gilvear D (2011) Estimating sediment and caesium-137 fluxes in the Ribble Estuary through time-series airborne remote sensing. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 102 (3), pp. 252-261.;

High spatial and temporal resolution airborne imagery were acquired for the Ribble Estuary, North West England in 1997 and 2003, to assess the application of time-series airborne remote sensing to quantify total suspended sediment and radionuclide fluxes during a flood and ebb tide sequence. Concomitant measurements of suspended particulate matter (SPM) and water column turbidity were obtained during the time-series image acquisition for the flood and ebb tide sequence on the 17th July 2003 to verify the assumption of a vertically well mixed estuary and thus justifying the vertical extrapolation of spatially integrated estimate of surface SPM. The 137Cs activity concentrations were calculated from a relatively stable relationship between SPM and 137Cs for the Ribble Estuary. Total estuary wide budgets of sediment and 137Cs were obtained by combining the image-derived estimates of surface SPM and 137Cs with estimates of water volume from a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model (VERSE) developed for the Ribble Estuary. These indicate that around 10,000 tonnes of sediment and 2.72 GBq of 137Cs were deposited over the tidal sequence monitored in July 2003. This compared favourably with bed height elevation change estimated from field work. An uncertainty analysis on the total sediment and 137Cs flux yielded a total budget of the order of 40% on the final estimate. The results represent a novel approach to providing a spatially integrated estimate of the total net sediment and radionuclide flux in an intertidal environment over a flood and ebb tide sequence.

Estuaries; Remote sensing; Caesium-137; Sediment; Ribble estuary; Flux

Journal of Environmental Radioactivity: Volume 102, Issue 3

Publication date31/03/2011
Publication date online31/12/2010
Publisher URL…0265931X10002614