Tennessee Valley Energy

Imagery showing temperature change between day and night using 2019 ECOSTRESS surface temperature data from September 1st at 3:09 am and August 30th at 11:18 am (CT). The Tennessee River, which is used to cool the Browns Ferry and Sequoyah nuclear plants, is displayed. Light shades of blue represent negative or low increase in temperature and light shades of purple represent high temperature increases. Calculating temperature change allows stakeholders to analyze temperature variation over time.

Keywords: Temperature, Tennessee Valley Energy, Nuclear Power Plants

Assessing the Hydrothermal Outputs of Nuclear Power Plants Along the Tennessee River with NASA Earth Observations

Aquatic ecosystems are susceptible to biodiversity loss due to increased water temperatures, which can select for heat-tolerant species and lead to a loss of locally adapted species that have a narrow temperature range. Regulations concerning heated effluent from nuclear power plants are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to avoid damage to surrounding ecosystems. This project utilized thermal infrared data from NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), and Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) along the Tennessee River to help improve river temperature predictive models used by the Tennessee Valley Authority‚Äôs Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (BFNP). To do this, the team highlighted spatial and temporal variation in river surface temperature as a result of seasonal change, flow rate, ambient air temperature, and plant power output. Results from the BFNP study area indicated that from 2013 to 2018, the change in water temperature between upstream and downstream locations (ΔT) increased by 3.546°F (p<0.01) and from 2018 to 2019, the ΔT decreased by 2.22°F (p<0.01). However, it is unclear if this variation can be attributed to the BFNP expansion. The results also demonstrated that river flow rate had the greatest impact on ΔT (p<0.001), while air temperature and power output did not significantly affect ΔT. These visualizations provided a new perspective on the behavior of thermal effluent at different locations along the Tennessee River, at different flow rates, and after the BFNP power upgrade.

Alabama — Marshall
Fall 2019
Tennessee Valley Authority, Hydrothermal Group
NASA Earth Observations
Landsat 8 TIRS
Lisa Dong (Project Lead)
Jessica Ding
Rachel Smith
Samuel Tatum
Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)
Dr. Robert Griffin (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Maggi Klug (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Helen Baldwin (NASA SERVIR)
Christine Evans (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)