AVHRR satellite remote sensing and shipboard measurements of the thermal plume from the Daya Bay, nuclear power station, China

Dan Ling Tang, Dana R. Kester, Zhaoding Wang, Jiansheng Lian, Hiroshi Kawamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


The 1800 MW Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station (DNPS), China's first nuclear power station, is located on the coast of the South China Sea. DNPS discharges 29 10 × 105 m3 year-1 of warm water from its cooling system into Daya Bay, which could have ecological consequences. This study examines satellite sea surface temperature data and shipboard water column measurements from Daya Bay. Field observations of water temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll a data were conducted four times per year at 12 sampling stations in Daya Bay during January 1997 to January 1999. Sea surface temperatures were derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) onboard National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar orbiting satellites during November 1997 to February 1999. A total of 2905 images with 1.1 x 1.1 km resolution were examined; among those images, 342 have sufficient quality for quantitative analysis. The results show a seasonal pattern of thermal plumes in Daya Bay. During the winter months (December to March), the thermal plume is localized to an area within a few km of the power plant, and the temperature difference between the plume and non-plume areas is about 1.5°C. During the summer and fall months (May to November), there is a larger thermal plume extending 8-10 km south along the coast from DNPS, and the temperature change is about 1.0°C. Monthly variation of SST in the thermal plume is analyzed. AVHRR SST is higher in daytime than in nighttime in the bay during the whole year. The strong seasonal difference in the thermal plume is related to vertical mixing of the water column in winter and to stratification in summer. Further investigations are needed to determine any other ecological effects of the Daya Bay thermal plume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-515
Number of pages10
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Apr 1


  • Daya Bay
  • Nuclear power station
  • Remote sensing
  • South China Sea
  • Thermal plume
  • Water temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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