Application of satellite infrared data for mapping of thermal plume contamination in coastal ecosystem of Korea

Pukyong National University, Busan, Busan, South Korea
Marine Environmental Research (Impact Factor: 2.76). 04/2006; 61(2):186-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2005.09.001
Source: PubMed


The 5900 MW Younggwang nuclear power station on the west coast of Korea discharges warm water affecting coastal ecology [KORDI report (2003). Wide area observation of the impact of the operation of Younggwang nuclear power plant 5 and 6, No. BSPI 319-00-1426-3, KORDI, Seoul, Korea]. Here the spatial and temporal characteristics of the thermal plume signature of warm water are reported from a time series (1985-2003) of space-borne, thermal infrared data from Landsat and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites. Sea surface temperature (SST) were characterized using advanced very high resolution radiometer data from the NOAA satellites. These data demonstrated the general pattern and extension of the thermal plume signature in the Younggwang coastal areas. In contrast, the analysis of SST from thematic mapper data using the Landsat-5 and 7 satellites provided enhanced information about the plume shape, dimension and direction of dispersion in these waters. The thermal plume signature was detected from 70 to 100 km to the south of the discharge during the summer monsoon and 50 to 70 km to the northwest during the winter monsoon. The mean detected plume temperature was 28°C in summer and 12°C in winter. The ΔT varied from 2 to 4°C in winter and 2°C in summer. These values are lower than the re-circulating water temperature (6-9°C). In addition the temperature difference between tidal flats and offshore (SSTtidal flats - SSToffsore) was found to vary from 5.4 to 8.5°C during the flood tides and 3.5°C during the ebb tide. The data also suggest that water heated by direct solar radiation on the tidal flats during the flood tides might have been transported offshore during the ebb tide. Based on these results we suggest that there is an urgent need to protect the health of Younggwang coastal marine ecosystem from the severe thermal impact by the large quantity of warm water discharged from the Younggwang nuclear power plant.

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