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Optical remote sensing support for a coastal zone Environmental Impact Study

Research project T4/DD/52 (Research action T4)

Persons :

  • Prof. dr.  PICHOT Georges - Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences ()
    Financed belgian partner
    Duration: 1/7/1999-31/12/1999

Description :

Regarding activities in Thailand and Southeast Asia, ECOLAS is currently bidding for different EIA's related to port and offshore investment projects. One of the bids concerns the "Thai Offshore Base" (TOB) project, in the framework of which a port facility is to be constructed near the existing port of Songkhla on the southeast coast of Thailand. This EIA is wide-ranging in scope, covering many potential pollution aspects. However, key elements relate to possible disruption and/or damage to the marine environment from suspended sediments dumped after dredging operations, and to possible changes in coastal and marine water movement. The necessary baseline information on the existing suspended sediment climate and on existing port discharges of waste water and subsequent transport in the coastal zone is lacking, suggesting an opening for the use of optical remote sensing.

The specific objective of this project is to obtain, from optical remote sensing data, baseline environmental information on the suspended sediment climate (including location of high turbidity regions and rainfall-induced seasonal variability) and on the main characteristics of phytoplankton distribution and dynamics in the coastal zone affected by the port facility to be constructed at Songkhla. This information will be used in Ecolas' Environmental Impact Assessment.

The following tasks will be carried out to achieve the stated objectives :

- A summary will be made of the existing data (if any) relating to suspended particulate matter and chlorophyll distributions in the coastal zone of the port of Songkhla.
- A summary will be made of the potential sources of optical remote sensing data (e.g. Landsat, SPOT, SeaWiFS, AVHRR, etc.) with an appraisal of each sensor for the present application in terms of spatial, temporal and spectral coverage and resolution, data availability, etc.
- The selected imagery will be processed to give suspended matter and chlorophyll distributions.
- A scientific analysis will be made of the processed imagery, noting both remote sensing aspects that may affect the data quality as well as interpreting the imagery in terms of physical/biological processes.
- The remote sensing imagery and accompanying scientific analysis will be incorporated into Ecolas' Environmental Impact Assessment.

Ecolas will supply the scientific partner with all available literature concerning relevant meteorological, hydrodynamical, sedimentological and biological data, including translations of Thai scientific publications and Environmental Impact Studies of the region. Ecolas has already supplied to MUMM bathymetric maps and tide tables for the region.

- Information on baseline information regarding suspended sediments, the existing port discharges of waste water and subsequent transport in the coastal zone.
- Insight in the key issues and problems which may arise during the dredging works and the port operation in the field of suspended sediment transport.
- Possible indications on erosion/deposition phenomena when compared to less recent remote sensing data.

While the present proposal is focussed on the TOB EIA, the methodology, if successful, can be easily applied to many such coastal zone EIAs (a core business of the use partner), even if existing knowledge and/or local support is very limited.

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