Tracing offshore low-salinity plumes in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico during the summer season by use of multispectral remote-sensing data
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- Son, Y.B., Gardner, W.D., Richardson, M.J. et al. J Oceanogr (2012) 68: 743. doi:10.1007/s10872-012-0131-y
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To trace offshore surface low-salinity water (LSW) in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, a proxy was developed using the surface water beam attenuation coefficient (cp), and salinity matched with synchronous Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) satellite data from three annual summer cruises (July 1998–August 2000) using a two-step empirical approach. First, a relationship between in-situ salinity and cp was obtained. Second, in-situ cp was matched with SeaWiFS radiance ratios of all available blue-to-green wavelengths. Finally, satellite-derived surface salinity was determined directly by combining the two empirical relationships, providing a robust estimate over a range of salinities (26–36). This significantly improves the limited spatial and temporal resolution of surface salinity distribution obtained by shipboard sampling. The resulting correlation is best explained as mixing between low-salinity plume waters and normal salinity Gulf waters. The empirical relationships were used to map satellite-derived salinity using the average of SeaWiFS images during each summer cruise. As expected for summer, spatial patterns of LSW plumes with high cp, particulate matter (PM), particulate organic carbon (POC), and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) were connected to the mouth of the Mississippi River Delta and extended to the east-southeast. Normal salinity Gulf water with lower cp, PM, POC, and Chl-a was confined to the shelf and upper slope in the eastern part of the study area, outside the plumes. This proxy approach can be applied throughout the region of shipboard sampling for more detailed coverage and analysis.