Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 68, Issue 5, pp 743–760 | Cite as

Tracing offshore low-salinity plumes in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico during the summer season by use of multispectral remote-sensing data

  • Young Baek Son
  • Wilford D. Gardner
  • Mary Jo Richardson
  • Joji Ishizaka
  • Joo-Hyung Ryu
  • Sang-Hyun Kim
  • Sang H. Lee
Original Article


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 (c p), 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 c p was obtained. Second, in-situ c p 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 c p, 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 c p, 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.


Low-salinity water (LSW) Beam attenuation coefficient Satellite-derived salinity Gulf of Mexico SeaWiFS MNDCI 



The work of scientists and technicians who participated in the Minerals Management Service-funded NEGOM program (OCS Study 98-0060) is greatly appreciated. This study was a part of the project entitled “Support for research and applications of Geostationary Ocean Color Imager (GOCI)” and “Assessment of the Impact of Climate change on Marine Ecosystem in the South Sea of Korea” funded by the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs, Korea, and partially financially supported by KORDI projects (KORDI contract numbers PE98781) and Hansung University. SeaWiFS data are the property of the GeoEye Corporation, and their use here is in accordance with the SeaWiFS Research Data Use Terms and Conditions Agreement of the NASA SeaWiFS project and is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Young Baek Son
    • 1
  • Wilford D. Gardner
    • 2
  • Mary Jo Richardson
    • 2
  • Joji Ishizaka
    • 3
  • Joo-Hyung Ryu
    • 1
  • Sang-Hyun Kim
    • 4
  • Sang H. Lee
    • 5
  1. 1.Korea Ocean Satellite Center (KOSC)Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST)SeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center (HyARC)Nagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Mechanical Systems EngineeringHansung UniversitySeoulKorea
  5. 5.Department of Marine SciencePusan National University, BusanSeoulKorea

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