Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Behaviors of the Yukon River Sediment Plume in the Bering Sea: Relations to Glacier-Melt Discharge and Sediment Load

Version 1 : Received: 16 August 2021 / Approved: 17 August 2021 / Online: 17 August 2021 (10:48:38 CEST)

How to cite: Chikita, K.A.; Wada, T.; Kudo, I.; Saitoh, S.; Hirawake, T.; Toratani, M. Behaviors of the Yukon River Sediment Plume in the Bering Sea: Relations to Glacier-Melt Discharge and Sediment Load. Preprints 2021, 2021080363 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202108.0363.v1). Chikita, K.A.; Wada, T.; Kudo, I.; Saitoh, S.; Hirawake, T.; Toratani, M. Behaviors of the Yukon River Sediment Plume in the Bering Sea: Relations to Glacier-Melt Discharge and Sediment Load. Preprints 2021, 2021080363 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202108.0363.v1).

Abstract

Sediment plumes, released to the Bering Sea from the delta front of the Yukon River, Alaska, are initiated mainly by glacier-melt sediment runoffs in the glacierized regions of the Yukon River drainage basin. The surface sediment plumes are extended around the fan-shaped Yukon River delta, which is followed by the northwestward dispersion. During continuous measure-ments of the Yukon River discharge and sediment load, behaviors of the sediment plumes were explored by shipboard observations in the Bering Sea offshore from the Yukon delta. At the high river sediment load of ca. 3000 kg/s, the plume partially plunged into the sea bottom layer. The plunging probably originated in the nepheloid-layer formation from the flocculation of river-suspended sediment, of which more than 90 %wt. is silt and clay (grain size d < 0.063 mm). In order to numerically obtain the area of the surface sediment plumes, a satellite image analy-sis was performed by using three near-infrared bands in MODIS/Aqua or MODIS/Terra. The plume area was significantly correlated (R2=0.735, p<0.01) to the sediment load averaged for the two days with time lags of 20 days and 21 days to the date of a certain satellite image. Hence, the dispersion of plume-suspended sediment appears to be controlled by the sediment runoff events in the Yukon River rather than the northward “Alaskan Coastal Water”.

Keywords

Yukon River; sediment load; surface sediment plume; density underflow; MODIS image

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