Seasonality and flux estimates of dissolved organic carbon in tidal wetlands and estuaries in the U.S. Mid- Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Mexico from ocean color

Fang Cao, City University of New York-City College, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, New York, NY, United States, Maria Tzortziou, CUNY City College of New York, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, New York, NY, United States, Chuanmin Hu, University of South Florida Tampa, Tampa, FL, United States and Raymond Najjar, The Pennsylvania State University, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, University Park, PA, United States
Tidal wetlands and estuaries are dynamic features of coastal ocean and play critical roles in the global carbon cycle. Exchanges of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) between tidal wetlands and adjacent estuaries have important implications for carbon sequestration in tidal wetlands as well as biogeochemical cycling of wetlands derived material in the coastal zones. Recent studies demonstrated that the absorption coefficients of chromophoric dissolved organic matter at λ= 275 and 295 nm, which can be derived from satellite ocean color observations, can be used to accurately retrieve dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in some coastal waters. Based on a synthesis of existing field observations collected covering wide spatial and temporal variability in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and the Gulf of Mexico, here we developed and validated new empirical models to estimate coastal DOC from remotely sensed bio-optical properties of the surface water. We focused on the interfaces between tidal wetland-estuary and estuary-shelf water domains. The DOC algorithms were applied to SeaWiFs and MODIS observations to generate long-term climatological DOC distributions from 1998 to 2014. Empirical orthogonal function analysis revealed strong seasonality and spatial gradients in the satellite retrieved DOC in the tidal wetlands and estuaries. Combined with field observations and biogeochemical models, satellite retrievals can be used to scale up carbon fluxes from individual marshes and sub-estuaries to the whole estuarine system, and improve understanding of biogeochemical exchanges between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.