Remote Sensing of Suspended Sediment Dynamics in the Mississippi Sound

Danielle Nicole Merritt1, Adam D Skarke1, Saurav Silwal2 and Padmanava Dash1, (1)Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, United States, (2)Mississippi State University, Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State, MS, United States
The Mississippi Sound is a semi-enclosed estuary between the coast of Mississippi and a chain of offshore barrier islands with relatively shallow water depths and high marine biodiversity that is wildly utilized for commercial fishing and public recreation. The discharge of sediment-laden rivers into the Mississippi Sound and the adjacent Northern Gulf of Mexico creates turbid plumes that can extend hundreds of square kilometers along the coast and persist for multiple days. The concentration of suspended sediment in these coastal waters is an important parameter in the calculation of regional sediment budgets as well as analysis of water-quality factors such as primary productivity, nutrient dynamics, and the transport of pollutants as well as pathogens. The spectral resolution, sampling frequency, and regional scale spatial domain associated with satellite based sensors makes remote sensing an ideal tool to monitor suspended sediment dynamics in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Accordingly, the presented research evaluates the validity of published models that relate remote sensing reflectance with suspended sediment concentrations (SSC), for similar environmental settings, with 51 in situ observations of SSC from the Mississippi Sound. Additionally, regression analysis is used to correlate additional in situ observations of SSC in Mississippi Sound with coincident observations of visible and near-infrared band reflectance collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard the Aqua satellite, in order to develop a site-specific empirical predictive model for SSC. Finally, specific parameters of the sampled suspended sediment such as grain size and mineralogy are analyzed in order to quantify their respective contributions to total remotely sensed reflectance.