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Potential of high spatial and temporal ocean color satellite data to study the dynamics of suspended particles in a micro-tidal river plume
Ody, A; Doxaran, D; Vanhellemont, Q.; Nechad, B.; Novoa, S; Many, G; Bourrin, F; Verney, R; Pairaud, I; Gentili, B (2016). Potential of high spatial and temporal ocean color satellite data to study the dynamics of suspended particles in a micro-tidal river plume. Remote Sens. 8(3): 35 pp.
In: Remote Sensing. MDPI: Basel. ISSN 2072-4292; e-ISSN 2072-4292, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    river plumes; coastal waters; high resolution; suspended particulatematter; remote sensing

Authors  Top 
  • Ody, A.
  • Doxaran, D.
  • Vanhellemont, Q., more
  • Nechad, B., more
  • Novoa, S.
  • Many, G.
  • Bourrin, F.
  • Verney, R.
  • Pairaud, I.
  • Gentili, B.

    Ocean color satellite sensors are powerful tools to study and monitor the dynamics of suspended particulate matter (SPM) discharged by rivers in coastal waters. In this study, we test the capabilities of Landsat-8/Operational Land Imager (OLI), AQUA&TERRA/Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and MSG-3/Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) sensors in terms of spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions to (i) estimate the seawater reflectance signal and then SPM concentrations and (ii) monitor the dynamics of SPM in the Rhône River plume characterized by moderately turbid surface waters in a micro-tidal sea. Consistent remote-sensing reflectance (Rrs) values are retrieved in the red spectral bands of these four satellite sensors (median relative difference less than ~16% in turbid waters). By applying a regional algorithm developed from in situ data, these Rrs are used to estimate SPM concentrations in the Rhône river plume. The spatial resolution of OLI provides a detailed mapping of the SPM concentration from the downstream part of the river itself to the plume offshore limits with well defined small-scale turbidity features. Despite the low temporal resolution of OLI, this should allow to better understand the transport of terrestrial particles from rivers to the coastal ocean. These details are partly lost using MODIS coarser resolutions data but SPM concentration estimations are consistent, with an accuracy of about 1 to 3 g·m-3 in the river mouth and plume for spatial resolutions from 250 m to 1 km. The MODIS temporal resolution (2 images per day) allows to capture the daily to monthly dynamics of the river plume. However, despite its micro-tidal environment, the Rhône River plume shows significant short-term (hourly) variations, mainly controlled by wind and regional circulation, that MODIS temporal resolution failed to capture. On the contrary, the high temporal resolution of SEVIRI makes it a powerful tool to study this hourly river plume dynamics. However, its coarse resolution prevents the monitoring of SPM concentration variations in the river mouth where SPM concentration variability can reach 20 g·m-3 inside the SEVIRI pixel. Its spatial resolution is nevertheless sufficient to reproduce the plume shape and retrieve SPM concentrations in a valid range, taking into account an underestimation of about 15%–20% based on comparisons with other sensors and in situ data. Finally, the capabilities, advantages and limits of these satellite sensors are discussed in the light of the spatial and temporal resolution improvements provided by the new and future generation of ocean color sensors onboard the Sentinel-2, Sentinel-3 and Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellite platforms.

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