Salinity and turbidity distributions in the Brisbane River estuary, Australia

Hong Zhang, Yingying YU, Charles Lemckert

Monday 29 june 2015

17:57 - 18:00h at Amazon (level 1)

Themes: (T) Water engineering, (ST) River and coastal engineering, Poster pitches

Parallel session: Poster pitch: 3C. Coastal Engineering

The Brisbane River estuary (BRE) in Australia not only plays a vital role in ecosystem health, but is also of importance for people who live nearby. Comprehensive investigations, both in the short- and long-term, into the salinity and turbidity distributions in the BRE were conducted. Firstly, the analysis of numerical results revealed that the longitudinal salinity varied at approximately 0.45 and 0.61 psu/hour during neap and spring tides, respectively. The turbidity stayed at a higher level and was less impacted by tide in the upper estuary, however, the water cleared up while the tide changed from flood to ebb in the mid and lower estuary. The second investigation into the seasonal variations of salinity and turbidity in the BRE was conducted, using ten-year field measurement data. A fourth-order polynomial equation was proposed, describing the longitudinal variation in salinity dilution changes as the upstream distance in the BRE during the wet and dry seasons. From the observation, the mid and upper estuaries were vertically well-mixed during both seasons, but the lower BRE was stratified, particularly during the wet season. The estuary turbidity maximum (ETM) zone was about 10 km longer during the wet season than the dry season. Particular emphasis was given to the third investigation into the use of satellite remote sensing techniques for estimation of the turbidity level in the BRE. A linear relationship between satellite observed water reflectance and surface turbidity level in the BRE was validated with an R2 of 0.75. The application of satellite-observed water reflectance therefore provided a practical solution for estimating surface turbidity levels of estuarine rivers not only under normal weather conditions, but also during flood events. The results acquired from this study are valuable for further hydrological research in the BRE and particularly prominent for immediate assessment of flood impacts.