Marine Science Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Coastal water quality, Fecal indicator bacteria, Ocean color, Recreational beach water quality, Remote sensing

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Enterococci concentration variability at Escambron Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico, was examined in the context of environmental conditions observed during 2005–2015. Satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST), turbidity, direct normal irradiance, and dew point were combined with local precipitation, winds, and mean sea level (MSL) observations in a stepwise multiple regression analyses (Akaike Information Criteria model selection). Precipitation, MSL, irradiance, SST, and turbidity explained 20% of the variation in observed enterococci concentrations based upon these analyses. Changes in these parameters preceded increases in enterococci concentrations by 24 h up to 11 days, particularly during positive anomalies of turbidity, SST, and 480–960 mm of accumulated (4 days) precipitation, which relates to bacterial ecology. Weaker, yet still significant, increases in enterococci concentrations were also observed during positive dew point anomalies. Enterococci concentrations decreased with elevated irradiance and MSL anomalies. Unsafe enterococci concentrations per US EPA recreational water quality guidelines occurred when 4-day cumulative precipitation ranged 481–960 mm; irradiance < 667 W·m-2; daily average turbidity anomaly >0.005 sr-1; SST anomaly >0.8 °C; and 3-day average MSL anomaly <-18.8 cm. This case study shows that satellite-derived environmental data can be used to inform future water quality studies and protect human health.

Rights Information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, v. 14, issue 12, art. 1602