Related Research Areas
Water & Energy Cycles

Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) is a controller of water clarity, a discriminator of river influence, an indicator of wetland influence and petroleum contamination, and may be correlated to nutrients. Remote sensing based algorithms of CDOM absorption exist, but in water CDOM measurements in the Gulf of Mexico (GMx) are lacking. This project will achieve two objectives to provide resource managers and decision makers with a support tool that can predict CDOM concentration in coastal waters and estuaries of the GMx. For Objective 1, we will construct a single, integrated CDOM database spanning 10 years of absorbance, fluorescence, and ancillary oceanographic observations for the northern GMx that can be used to validate existing ocean color algorithms that predict two important properties of CDOM: its absorption coefficient at 412 nm (a412) and the slope coefficient of the CDOM absorption spectrum (S). An Advisory Committee will be assembled to provide advice on database development and usefulness from scientists, resource managers, and other decision makers. A workshop held midway through the project will solicit community participation in finalizing guidelines for future data admission. For Objective 2, we will validate two algorithms that compute a412 and S from SeaWiFS and MODIS remote sensing imagery for the northern GMx. The algorithms will be incorporated into an existing web portal, the Gulf Coast Information System (, and CDOM data products will be generated. Users will be able to access a412 and S measurements and use a tool in which they can calculate a CDOM absorption spectrum over a specified wavelength range. Performance measures to be developed will use feedback from workshops and the Advisory Committee to evaluate the usefulness of the database and of the CDOM data support tool. Thus, decision makers and managers will have CDOM absorption information in near real-time with greater geospatial and temporal coverage than currently exists. The proposed research improves water quality assessment and monitoring capabilities, research priorities both for the NASA Water Resources application area and for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. In the future, this database and the resulting water clarity decision support tool can serve as a model for other coastal areas beyond the Gulf of Mexico.

Project PI: Christopher Osburn/NC State University

4150 Jordan Hall,Dept. of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences North Carolina State University

Phone: (919) 515-0382



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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