Low Discharge Fieldwork on the Ayeyarwady Delta, Myanmar

Our lab has an ongoing research project examining tidal river hydro- and sediment dynamics in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River delta of Myanmar (Burma).  The Ayeyarwady River is likely the third largest source of sediment to the global ocean after the Amazon and Ganges-Brahmaputra Rivers, but relatively little is known about this large river system compared to other rivers of its size.

A group of us (Andrea, Chuck, Hannah, and Aaron)  just returned from three weeks of fieldwork on three distributaries of the Ayeyarwady- the Yangon, Bogale, and Pathein Rivers.  This was the second of two initial field campaigns designed to capture the two dominant seasonal conditions in this monsoonal system.  Last September we undertook a similar field effort to capture high discharge of the river during the rainy season, which also coincides with more energetic marine conditions.  This most recent trip was timed to capture low-flow of the river and quiescent marine conditions.

Together with an enthusiastic group of scientists and students from two Myanmar universities (Pathein University and Myanmar Maritime University), we investigated river dynamics and water-column properties using a variety of Instrumentation (e.g., boat-mounted and fixed ADCPs, CTD casts) as well as river-bed properties (e.g., grain size, sediment-accumulation history) using grab samples, augers, and x-radiography.

Below are some photos from our time in the field highlighting some of the work we accomplished, challenges we faced, and fun we had!

Hannah takes notes while logging ADCP data on the Bogale River.

Aaron discusses CTD data collected in the Yangon River with Colleagues from Myanmar Maritime University.

The CTD comes back on deck.

An improvised towed ADCP platform on the Yangon River (thwarted by VERY high SSC).

A 6-m saltwater crocodile reminds us why we minimize the amount of time we spend in the water near Meinmahla Island.

Our research vessel on the Bogale River. Note the ADCP pole midship.

An Aquadopp is deployed in a tidal channel on Meinmahla Island.

Some of the colonial architecture in downtown Yangon.