Satellite Remote Sensing with SeaWiFS to Detect Seasonal and Interannual Variability in Phytoplankton Abundance in the Chesapeake Bay and Adjacent Coastal Waters
Shipboard studies have been critical to developing our understanding of processes in Chesapeake Bay such as the relationship between nutrient loading and phytoplankton biomass. But traditional oceanographic methods can be ineffective for sampling dynamic features that typify estuaries, including dense and often patchy blooms of diatoms and dinoflagellates. Remote sensing using satellite and aircraft instruments enables improved spatial and temporal coverage for several important properties, including chlorophyll concentrations, turbidity and temperature. Since 1989, Larry Harding and his colleagues have used aircraft remote sensing with the Ocean Data Acquisition System (ODAS) to provide synoptic, baywide information on algal abundance, production and dynamics in the Bay. This effort has generated a set of unmatched ocean color data and provided much insight into the variability of phytoplankton seasonally and from year to year.
In this project, Harding and Wayne Esaias will use ocean color data from two aircraft instruments, ODAS and the SeaWiFS Aircraft Simulator (SAS II), to measure the distribution and abundance of phytoplankton chlorophyll in the Chesapeake Bay and adjacent coastal waters. The data from these aircraft instruments will be combined with satellite data from the new ocean color satellite instrument, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), following its scheduled launch in late 1996 to provide synoptic, frequent data on phytoplankton dynamics in these nutrient-rich waters. The satellite data have the advantage of high synopticity and regularity of coverage and will augment the fine-scale information obtained using ODAS and SAS II. This project will provide data on phytoplankton biomass to scientists and managers who are working to accurately assess improvements of Bay water quality.
Data from the Ocean Data Acquisition System (ODAS) is available by anonymous ftp at ftp://www.mdsg.umd.edu/Public/his_chl.
More information about remote sensing is available at Chesapeake Bay Remote Sensing, part of the Bay Science Gateway.
Lawrence W. Harding, Jr.
Horn Point Laboratory
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
and Maryland Sea Grant
University System of Maryland
Goddard Space Flight Center
National Aeronautics and Space Administration