Quantifying suspended sediment dynamics in mega deltas using remote sensing data

A case study of the Mekong floodplains

Thanh Duc Dang, Thomas A. Cochrane, Mauricio E. Arias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Temporal and spatial concentrations of suspended sediment in floodplains are difficult to quantify because in situ measurements can be logistically complex, time consuming and costly. In this research, satellite imagery with long temporal and large spatial coverage (Landsat TM/ETM+) was used to complement in situ suspended sediment measurements to reflect sediment dynamics in a large (70,000 km2) floodplain. Instead of using a single spectral band from Landsat, a Principal Component Analysis was applied to obtain uncorrelated reflectance values for five bands of Landsat TM/ETM+. Significant correlations between the scores of the 1st principal component and the values of continuously gauged suspended sediment concentration, shown via high coefficients of determination of sediment rating curves (R2 ranging from 0.66 to 0.92), permit the application of satellite images to quantify spatial and temporal sediment variation in the Mekong floodplains. Estimated suspended sediment maps show that hydraulic regimes at Chaktomuk (Cambodia), where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers diverge, determine the amount of seasonal sediment supplies to the Mekong Delta. The development of flood prevention systems to allow for three rice crops a year in the Vietnam Mekong Delta significantly reduces localized flooding, but also prevents sediment (source of nutrients) from entering fields. A direct consequence of this is the need to apply more artificial fertilizers to boost agricultural productivity, which may trigger environmental problems. Overall, remote sensing is shown to be an effective tool to understand temporal and spatial sediment dynamics in large floodplains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume68
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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