Check out our latest blog post about this work in Myanmar.
The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River is one of the largest fluvial sources of sediment and dissolved elements to the ocean. The river flows down from the Himalayan Plateau through Myanmar (Burma). Due to Myanmar’s political isolation, the river and delta were largely inaccessible to the global scientific community until recently. The river is also significantly less developed, with fewer dams, than nearby Southeast Asian rivers (e.g., the Mekong River in Vietnam). Consequently, the delta and estuary of the Ayeyarwady River are natural laboratories where morphology can be directly related to fluvial and marine processes, providing insight into deltaic sediment dynamics.
We are investigating three distributaries of the Ayeyarwady: the Pathein, the Bogale, and the Yangon Rivers in the west, central, and eastern region of the delta respectively. These rivers experience differences in discharge, tides, and waves, resulting in different morphologies. In each river distributary we measure flow over tidal cycles, collect water samples, and collect sediment cores from the river bed and banks. We have also deployed long term sensors to collect data between sampling trips. We are making use of connections with remote sensing experts to gain spatial and temporal coverage of the region.
We are collaborating with colleagues at Pathein and Myanmar Maritime Universities, who were here for a scientific visit in May. Our colleagues and students have been extremely helpful in making some of the first observations of the active sedimentary processes in the Ayeyarwady Delta.