Remote sensing of water quality and contaminants in the California Bay-Delta

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Cedric G Fichot1, Bryan D Downing2, Lisamarie Windham-Myers3, Mark C Marvin-DiPasquale3, Brian A Bergamaschi4, David R Thompson5 and Michelle M Gierach1, (1)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)USGS California Water Science Center Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, United States, (3)USGS California Water Science Center Menlo Park, Menlo Park, CA, United States, (4)California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, United States, (5)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
The California Bay-Delta is a highly altered ecosystem largely reclaimed from wetlands for agriculture, and millions of acres of farmland and Californians rely on the Bay-Delta for their water supply. The Bay-Delta also harbors important habitats for many organisms, including commercial and endangered species. Recently, the Delta Stewardship Council developed a two component mission (coequal goals) to 1) provide a more reliable water supply for California while 2) protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Bay-Delta ecosystem. Dissolved organic carbon, turbidity, and contaminants such as methylmercury represent important water quality issues for water management and in the context of wetland restoration in the Bay-Delta, and can threaten the achievement of the coequal goals. Here, we use field measurements of optical properties, chemical analyses, and remotely sensed data acquired with the airborne Portable Remote Imaging SpectroMeter (PRISM ; http://prism.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html) to demonstrate these water quality parameters and the study of their dynamics in the Bay-Delta are amenable to remote sensing. PRISM provides high signal-to-noise, high spatial resolution (~2 m), hyperspectral measurements of remote-sensing reflectance in the 350-1050 nm range, and therefore has the adequate resolutions for water quality monitoring in inland, optically complex waters. Remote sensing of water quality will represent a valuable complement to existing in situ water quality monitoring programs in this region and will help with decision-making to achieve the co-equal goals.