Remotely sensed assessment of dredging impacts on water turbidity is straightforward when turbidity plumes show up in clear water. However, it is more complicated in turbid waters as the spatial or temporal changes in turbidity might be of natural origin. The plausibility of attributing turbidity patterns to dredging activities would be greatly enhanced when demonstrating association between dredging infrastructure and water turbidity. This study investigated the possibility to strengthen the inference of dredging impact while simultaneously monitoring vessels and water turbidity in the northern Poyang Lake, China, where dredging was first introduced in 2001 and rapidly extended onwards. Time-series of Landsat TM and MODIS images of 2000¿2005 were used to estimate the distribution and number of vessels as well as water turbidity. MODIS images revealed a significant increase in water turbidity from 2001 onwards. Landsat TM image analysis indicated a simultaneous increase in the number of vessels. Regression analysis further showed a highly significant positive relationship (R2=0.92) between water turbidity and vessel number. Visual interpretation of ship locations led to the conclusion that clear upstream waters developed turbidity plumes while passing the first cluster of vessels. We concluded that dredging caused the increase in water turbidity, and simultaneously monitoring the water turbidity and vessels enhanced the strength of evidence in remotely sensed dredging impact assessment.
- river estuary