Context and objectives

The research hypothesis of the present project is that 3D turbidity profiles of the seawater column can be produced by combining two techniques, i.e. optical remote sensing and multibeam echo-sounding (MBES). Satellite-derived turbidity has already become a product in the portfolio of companies specialized in earth observation. On the other hand, MBES-derived turbidity is new and not yet applied in the field. Simmons et al. (2017) tested MBES in a controlled environment, demonstrating the capabilities of the device to detect suspended material.

We will evaluate methods to merge data from optical remote sensing with MBES to produce 3D turbidity profiles. We will investigate if the combination of different wavelengths of optical remote sensing is able to provide more information about the vertical distribution of turbidity at the upper layer of the water column. Differences in temporal and spatial resolution should be taken into account. A direct comparison between both techniques will be done in the expected overlapping depth zone in the water column. If successful, it is checked whether the information from one technique can be used to help improving the results based on the other technique.

The study site is the Belgian part of the North Sea, is a well-known dynamic and turbid area investigated already for decades. Furthermore, it is easily accessible from Ostend (home base of VLIZ).

MBES is one of the most used marine survey tools in the world. Consequently, this project has the future potential to help generating new datasets from vessels of opportunity to validate optical remote sensing end products and yield useful sediment budget data applicable in e.g. coastal engineering.