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25 October 2016 Operational monitoring of turbidity in rivers: how satellites can contribute
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The applications of remote sensing in hydrology are diverse and offer significant benefits for water monitoring. Up to now, operational river monitoring and sediment management in Germany mainly rely on in-situ measurements and on results obtained from numerical modelling. Remote sensing by satellites has a great potential to supplement existing data with two-dimensional information on near-surface turbidity distributions at greater spatial scales than in-situ measurements can offer. Within the project WasMon-CT (WaterMonitoring-Chlorophyll/Turbidity), the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG) aims at the implementation of an operational monitoring of turbidity distributions based on satellite images (esp. Sentinel-2, Landsat7 and 8). Initially, selected federal inland and estuarine waterways will be addressed: Rhine, Elbe, Ems, Weser. WasMon-CT is funded within the German Copernicus activities.

Within the project, a database of atmospherically corrected, geo-referenced turbidity data will be assembled. The collected corresponding meta-data will include aspects of satellite data as well as hydrological data, e.g. cloud cover and river run-off. Based on this catalogue of spatially linked meta-data, the satellite data will be selected by e.g. cloud cover or run-off. The permanently updated database will include past as well as recent satellite images. It is designed with a long-term perspective to optimize the existing in-situ measurement network, which will serve partly for calibration and partly as validation data set. The aim is to extend, but not to substitute, the existing frequent point measurements with spatially extensive, satellite-derived data from the near surface part of the water column. Here, turbidity is used as proxy for corresponding suspended sediment concentrations. For this, the relationship between turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations will be investigated. Products as e.g. longitudinal profiles or virtual measurement stations will be developed from an application toolbox to specifically match requirements of operational monitoring tasks and to allow for a better integration into the existing monitoring system. The toolbox demonstrates the benefits of remote sensing by applying the established processing chain to diverse hydrological questions, such as for the investigation of tidal-affected sediment loads or mixing processes at river confluences.

This new application will be of great value to assess, evaluate and monitor the status or the change of large-scale sediment processes at the system level. Accordingly, the satellite-derived turbidity data will strongly enhance federal consulting activities and thus ensure a modern river monitoring of Germany’s federal water ways.
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Dorothee Hucke, Gudrun Hillebrand, Axel Winterscheid, Susanne Kranz, and Björn Baschek "Operational monitoring of turbidity in rivers: how satellites can contribute", Proc. SPIE 9998, Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology XVIII, 999817 (25 October 2016);

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