, 22:431 | Cite as

Variations in water clarity and bottom albedo in Florida Bay from 1985 to 1997

  • R. P. StumpfEmail author
  • M. L. Frayer
  • M. J. Durako
  • J. C. Brock


Following extensive seagrass die-offs of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Florida Bay reportedly had significant declines in water clarity due to turbidity and algal blooms. Scant information exists on the extent of the decline, as this bay was not investigated for water quality concerns before the die-offs and limited areas were sampled after the primary die-off. We use imagery from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) to examine water clarity in Florida Bay for the period 1985 to 1997. The AVHRR provides data on nominal water reflectance and estimated light attenuation, which are used here to describe turbidity conditions in the bay on a seasonal basis. In situ observations on changes in seagrass abundance within the bay, combined with the satellite data, provide additional insights into losses of seagrass. The imagery shows an extensive region to the west of Florida Bay having increased reflectance and light attenuation in both winter and summer begining in winter of 1988. These increases are consistent with a change from dense seagrass to sparse or negligible cover. Approximately 200 km2 of these offshore seagrasses may have been lost during the primary die-off (1988 through 1991), significantly more than in the bay. The imagery shows the distribution and timing of increased turbidity that followed the die-offs in the northwestern regions of the bay, exemplified in Rankin Lake and Johnson Key Basin, and indicates that about 200 km2 of dense seagrass may have been lost or severely degraded within the bay from the start of the die-off. The decline in water clarity has continued in the northwestern bay since 1991. The area west of the Everglades National Park boundaries has shown decreases in both winter turbidity and summer reflectances, suggestive of partial seagrass recovery. Areas of low reflectance associated with a majorSyringodium filiforme seagrass meadow north of Marathon (Vaca Key, in the Florida Keys) appear to have expanded westward toward Big Pine Key, indicating changes in the bottom cover from before the die-off. The southern and eastern sections of the Bay have not shown significant changes in water clarity or bottom albedo throughout the entire time period.


Advanced Very High Resolution Radiome Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer Water Clarity Offshore Region Seagrass Cover 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Literature Cited

  1. Abel, P. andB. Guenther. 1993. Calibration results for NOAA-11 AVHRR Channels 1 and 2 from congruent path aircraft observations.Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 10:493–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boesch, D. F., N. E. Armstrong, C. F. D'Elia, N. G. Maynard, H. W. Paerl, andS. L. Williams. 1993. Deterioration of the Florida Bay Ecosystem. Report to the Interagency Working Group on Florida Bay, United States Department of Interior, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  3. Bosence, D. 1989. Surface sublittoral sediments of Florida Bay.Bulletin of Marine Sciences 44:434–453.Google Scholar
  4. Boyer, J. N., J. W. Fourqurean, andR. D. Jones. 1997. Spatial characterization of water quality in Florida Bay and Whitewater Bay by multivariate analyses: Zones of similar influence.Estuaries 20:743–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlson, P. R., L. A. Yarbro, andT. R. Barber. 1994. Relationship of sediment sulfide to mortality ofThalassia testudinum in Florida Bay.Bulletin of Marine Science 54(3):733–746.Google Scholar
  6. Durako, M. J. 1994. Seagrass die-off in Florida Bay (USA): Changes in shoot demographic characteristics and population dynamics inThalassia testudinum.Marine Ecology Progress Series 110:59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Durako, M. J. 1996. Indicators of seagrass ecological condition: An assessment based on spatial and temporal changes, p. 261–266.In K. R. Dyer and R. J. Orth (eds.), Changes in Fluxes in Estuaries. Olsen and Olsen, Denmark.Google Scholar
  8. Durako, M. J. andK. M. Kuss. 1994. Effects ofLabyrinthula infection on the photosynthetic capacity ofThalassia testudinum.Bulletin Marine Science 54(3):727–732.Google Scholar
  9. Fourqurean, J. W., R. D. Jones, andJ. C. Zieman. 1993. Processes influencing water column nutrient characteristics and phosphorus limitation of phytoplankton biomass in Florida Bay, FL, USA: Inferences from spatial distributions.Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 36:295–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gallegos, C. L. andW. J. Kenworthy. 1996. Seagrass depth limits in the Indian River Lagoon (Florida, U.S.A.): Application of an optical water quality model.Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 42:267–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gordon, H. R., D. K. Clark, J. W. Brown, O. B. Brown, R. H. Evans, andW. W. Broenkow. 1983. Phytoplankton pigment concentrations in the Middle Atlantic Bight: Comparison of ship determinations and CZCS estimates.Applied Optics 22:20–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gould, R. andR. Arnone. 1997. Estimating the beam attenuation coefficient in coastal waters from AVHRR Imagery.Continental Shelf Research 17(11):1375–1387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gower, J. F. R. 1994. Red tide monitoring using AVHRR/HRPT imagery from a local receiver.Remote Sensing Environment 48: 309–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hall, M. O., M. J. Durako, J. W. Fourqurean, andJ. C. Zieman. 1999. Decadal-scale changes in seagrass distribution and abundance in Florida Bay.Estuaries 22:445–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iverson, R. L. andH. F. Bittaker. 1986. Seagrass distribution and abundance in castern Gulf of Mexico coastal waters.Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 22:577–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mueller-Dombois, D. andH. Ellenberg. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Philpot, W. D. 1989. Bathymetric mapping with passive multispectral imagery.Applied Optics 28:1569–1578.Google Scholar
  18. Phlipps, E. J. andS. Badylak. 1996. Spatial variability in phytoplankton standing crop and composition in a shallow inner-shelf lagoon, Florida Bay, Florida.Bulletin of Marine Science 58: 203–216.Google Scholar
  19. Phlipps, E. J., T. C. Lynch, andS. Badylak. 1995. Chlorophylla, tripton, color, and light availability in a shallow tropical inner-shelf lagoon, Florida Bay, USA.Marine Ecology Progress Series 127:223–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rao, C. R. N. andJ. Chen. 1995. Inter-satellite calibration linkages for the visible and near-infrared channels of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer on the NOAA-7, −9, and −11 spacecraft.International Journal of Remote Sensing 16:1931–1942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rao, C. R. N. andJ. Chen. 1996. Post-launch calibration of the visible and near-infrared channels of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer on the NOAA-14 spacecraft.International Journal of Remote Sensing 17:2743–2747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Robblee, M. B., T. B. Barber, P. R. Carlson, Jr.,M. J. Durako, J. W. Fourqurean, L. M. Muehlstein, D. Porter, L. A. Yarbro, R. T. Zieman, andJ. C. Zieman. 1991. Mass mortality of the tropical seagrassThalassia testudinum in Florida Bay (USA).Marine Ecology Progress Series 71:297–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stumpf, R. P. 1992. Remote sensing of water quality in coastal waters, p. 293–305.In N. Wallman (ed.), Proceedings of Remote Sensing of Marine and Coastal Environments, Society of Photo-Instrumentation Engineers 1930. Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.Google Scholar
  24. Stumpf, R. P. andM. L. Frayer. 1997. Chapter 1, p. 1–23.In M. Kahru and C. W. Brown (eds.), Monitoring Algal Blooms: New Techniques for Detecting Large-Scale Environmental Change. Landes Bioscience, Austin, Texas.Google Scholar
  25. Stumpf, R. P., G. Gelfenbaum, andJ. R. Pennock. 1993. Wind and tidal forcing of a buoyant plume, Mobile Bay, Alabama.Continental Shelf Research 13:1281–1301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stumpf, R. P. andJ. R. Pennock. 1993. Wind and tidal forcing of a buoyant plume, Mobile Bay, Alabama.Continental Shelf Research 13:1281–1301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stumpf, R. P. andJ. R. Pennock. 1989. Calibration of a general optical equation for remote sensing of suspended sediments in a moderately turbid estuary.Journal Geophysical Research—Oceans 94:14363–14371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stumpf, R. P. andJ. R. Pennock. 1991. Remote estimation of the diffuse attenuation coefficient in a moderately turbid estuary.Remote Sensing of Environment 38:183–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tomas, C., B. Bendis, and K. Johns. In press. Nutrient limitation of phytoplankton blooms in Florida Bay.Journal of Plankton Research.Google Scholar
  30. Walker, N. D. 1996. Satellite assessment of Mississippi River plume variability: Causes and predictability.Remote Sensing of Environment 58:21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Zieman, J. C., J. W. Fourqurean, andR. L. Iverson. 1989. Distribution, abundance and productivity of seagrasses and macroalgae in Florida Bay.Bulletin of Marine Science 44:292–311.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. P. Stumpf
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. L. Frayer
    • 2
  • M. J. Durako
    • 3
  • J. C. Brock
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Coastal GeologyUnited States Geological SurveySt. Petersburg
  2. 2.Florida Department of Environmental ProtectionFlorida Marine Research InstituteSt. Petersburg
  3. 3.Center for Marine Science ResearchThe University of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmington
  4. 4.Coastal Services CenterNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationCharleston

Personalised recommendations