Close Range Remote Sensing and HPLC Analysis of Coastal Phytoplankton on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts
Olley, John T.
O’Donnell, John P.
Schalles, John F.
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Coastal communities are intimately connected to coastal water quality. The occurrence of harmful algal blooms has increased worldwide in recent years and is primarily attributed to coastal and estuarine eutrophication. Bloom detection and monitoring is vital to effective management of coastal waters. The ability of remote sensing to identify and track algal blooms has been intensively studied in recent years. Remote estimation of chlorophyll a is increasing globally, yet turbid, Case 2 waters present challenges. We are focusing on optical measures in diverse estuarine and nearshore waters. In 2011, we collected a set of water quality measurements and phytoplankton samples from 17 coastal and estuarine sites between Texas and Virginia, while simultaneously obtaining hyperspectral reflectance measurements. Chlorophyll a concentration varied from 2.0 - 441.3 μg/L, total suspended solid (TSS) concentration from 0.9 - 105.0 mg/L, and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) absorbance at 440 nm from 0.08 - 4.71 m-1. HPLC and light microscopy are being used to quantify the pigments and their composite absorption and identify the taxonomic composition of each sample. The pigment and taxonomic composition of diverse phytoplankton populations, including lower diversity blooms (dinoflagellates, cyanobacteria, and diatoms), are being compared to reflectance spectra using optical models. We are assessing the ability of remote sensing to taxonomically discriminate these coastal phytoplankton communities and to better parameterize our algorithms for Case 2 chlorophyll a estimation.