The integration of thermal infrared imaging, discharge measurements and numerical simulation to quantify the relative contributions of freshwater inflows to small estuaries in Atlantic Canada.
Danielescu, S., MacQuarrie, K.T.B., and Faux, R.N. (2009). "The integration of thermal infrared imaging, discharge measurements and numerical simulation to quantify the relative contributions of freshwater inflows to small estuaries in Atlantic Canada.", Hydrological Processes, 23(20), pp. 2847-2859. doi : 10.1002/hyp.7383 Access to full text
Nutrient fluxes from developed catchments are often a significant factor in the declining water quality and ecological functioning in estuaries. Determining the relative contributions of surface water and groundwater discharge to nutrient-sensitive estuaries is required because these two pathways may be characterized by different nutrient concentrations and temporal variability, and may thus require different remedial actions. Quantifying the volumetric discharge of groundwater, which may occur via diffuse seepage or springs, remains a significant challenge. In this contribution, the total discharge of freshwater, including groundwater, to two small nutrient-sensitive estuaries in Prince Edward Island (Canada) is assessed using a unique combination of airborne thermal infrared imaging, direct discharge measurements in streams and shoreline springs, and numerical simulation of groundwater flow. The results of the thermal infrared surveys indicate that groundwater discharge occurs at discrete locations (springs) along the shoreline of both estuaries, which can be attributed to the fractured sandstone bedrock aquifer. The discharge measured at a sub-set of the springs correlates well with the area of the thermal signal attributed to each discharge location and this information was used to determine the total spring discharge to each estuary. Stream discharge is shown to be the largest volumetric contribution of freshwater to both estuaries (83% for Trout River estuary and 78% for McIntyre Creek estuary); however, groundwater discharge is significant at between 13% and 18% of the total discharge. Comparison of the results from catchment-scale groundwater flow models and the analysis of spring discharge suggest that diffuse seepage to both estuaries comprises only about 25% of the total groundwater discharge. The methods employed in this research provide a useful framework for determining the relative volumetric contributions of surface water and groundwater to small estuaries and the findings are expected to be relevant to other fractured sandstone coastal catchments in Atlantic Canada.
Report a problem on this page
- Date modified: