As human pressure on the marine environment increases, safeguarding healthy and productive seas increasingly necessitates integrated, time- and cost-effective environmental monitoring. Employment of a Wave Glider proved very useful for the study of sediment transport in a shallow sandbank area in the Belgian part of the North Sea. During 22 days, data on surface and water-column currents and turbidity were recorded along 39 loops around an aggregate-extraction site. Correlation with wave and tidal-amplitude data allowed the quantification of current- and wave-induced advection and resuspension, important background information to assess dredging impacts. Important anomalies in suspended particulate matter concentrations in the water column suggested dredging-induced overflow of sediments in the near field (i.e., dynamic plume), and settling of finer-grained material in the far field (i.e., passive plume). Capturing the latter is a successful outcome to this experiment, since the location of dispersion and settling of a passive plume is highly dependent on the ruling hydro-meteorological conditions and thus difficult to predict. Deposition of the observed sediment plumes may cause habitat changes in the long-term.
- Wave Glider data on surface and water-column currents and turbidity. 22-day trajectory around Oosthinder sandbank, Belgian part of the North Sea