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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Exploring Streamwater Mixing Dynamics via Handheld Thermal Infrared Imagery

Catchment and Eco-Hydrology Group, Department of Environmental Research and Innovation, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, 41 rue du Brill, Belvaux L-4422, Luxembourg
Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen 6708 PB, The Netherlands
Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Water 2017, 9(5), 358;
Received: 7 March 2017 / Revised: 12 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Developments in Methods for Hydrological Process Understanding)
PDF [3490 KB, uploaded 19 May 2017]


Stream confluences are important hotspots of aquatic ecological processes. Water mixing dynamics at stream confluences influence physio-chemical characteristics of the stream as well as sediment mobilisation and pollutant dispersal. In this study, we investigated the potential for handheld thermal infrared (TIR) imagery to provide rapid information on stream water mixing dynamics at small scales. In-situ visualisation of water mixing patterns can help reduce analytical errors related to stream water sampling locations and improve our understanding of how confluences and tributaries influence aquatic ecological communities. We compared TIR-inferred stream temperature distributions with water electrical conductivity and temperature (measured with a submerged probe) data from cross-channel transects. We show that the use of a portable TIR camera can enhance the visualisation of mixing dynamics taking place at stream confluences, identify the location of the mixing front between two different water sources and the degree of mixing. Interpretation of handheld TIR observations also provided information on how stream morphology and discharge can influence mixing dynamics in small streams. Overall, this study shows that TIR imagery is a valuable support technique for eco-hydrological investigation at small stream confluences. View Full-Text
Keywords: surface water; mixing dynamics; thermal infrared imagery; stream confluence surface water; mixing dynamics; thermal infrared imagery; stream confluence

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Antonelli, M.; Klaus, J.; Smettem, K.; Teuling, A.J.; Pfister, L. Exploring Streamwater Mixing Dynamics via Handheld Thermal Infrared Imagery. Water 2017, 9, 358.

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