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The ecological impact of saline penetration of rivers

The Geography Department at the University of Loughborough is using the Seba Dipper TEC Data Logger supplied by Hydrokit to monitor saline intrusion in the River Ouse & River Adur in Sussex..

This project aims to determine the ecological impact of saline penetration of rivers in Southern England that result from the interactions of changes in land/sea levels, river flows and storm surges. Project data will be used to populate sea level rise scenario based models. These will predict the impacts of saline penetration upon river ecology that will inform and guide those concerned with river habitat and biodiversity management.

Low Tide Shoreham R. Adur Sussex

River Ouse Sussex

The Seba Dipper TEC is used to log the conductivity of the water to determine exactly how much salt is being pushed up the river from the sea. The temperature, conductivity, salinity and level probe log every minute over a 12-hour tidal cycle. The Seba Dipper TEC is stainless steel with a ceramic transducer developed for long term immersion in aggressive situations, such as that characterised by brackish environments.

Loughborough University researcher Sally Little is using the Seba Dipper Tec to investigate the impact of increasing saline penetration on riverine ecology. Penetration of salt water in to river systems in Southern England is predicted to increase over time due to eustatic sea level rise, isostatic land level decline, increased storm surge levels and decreased river flows. Of particular interest is the transition zone between brackish and fresh water in transitional river systems.

Southease Bridge R. Ouse Sussex

Seba Dipper TEC Data Logger

At the moment the objective is to find out how far salt actually travels up these rivers at high tide. This involves leaving the Dipper-Tec in a selected position along this transitional zone for a 12 hour tidal cycle. Using the Dipper-Tec data along with physical and biological sampling both in the field and laboratory should enable predictions on how far the salt will penetrate these systems in the future and the effect that this will have on riverine ecology. Sally says “My first field season took place in Autumn and the Dipper-Tec was brilliant. It is proving to be an essential piece of field equipment” Research continues……

Extract S. Little, ack. Dept of Geography, University of Loughborough

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