Branch Seminar Series: Carlos Del Castillo

Johns Hopkins University
The use of ocean color remote sensing to measure the transport of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) by the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico is investigated. From 2000 to 2005 we recorded surface measurements of DOC, colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), salinity, and water-leaving radiances during five cruises to the Mississippi River Plume. These measurements were used to develop empirical relationships to derive DOC, CDOM, and salinity from monthly composites of SeaWiFS imagery collected from 1998 through 2005. We compared our remote sensing estimates of river flow and DOC transport with data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from 1998 through 2005. Our remote sensing estimates of river flow and DOC transport correlated well (correlations approximately 0.70) with the USGS data. Our remote sensing estimates and USGS field data showed low variability in DOC concentrations in the river end-member (7-11%), and high seasonal variability in river flow (~50%). Therefore, changes in river flow control the variability in DOC transport, indicating that the remote sensing estimate of river flow is the most critical element of our DOC transport measurement. We concluded that it is possible to use this method to estimate DOC transport by other large rivers if there are data on the relationship between CDOM, DOC, and salinity in the river plume. The approach to determined POC transport is also explored.