Marine Science Faculty Publications

Using the Surface Reflectance Modis Terra Product to Estimate Turbidity in Tampa Bay, Florida

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Publication Date



Color, Estuarine remote sensing, Light attenuation, Rainfall, Turbidity, Water quality

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Turbidity is a commonly-used index of the factors that determine light penetration in the water column. Consistent estimation of turbidity is crucial to design environmental and restoration management plans, to predict fate of possible pollutants, and to estimate sedimentary fluxes into the ocean. Traditional methods monitoring fixed geographical locations at fixed intervals may not be representative of the mean water turbidity in estuaries between intervals, and can be expensive and time consuming. Although remote sensing offers a good solution to this limitation, it is still not widely used due in part to required complex processing of imagery. There are satellite-derived products, including the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra surface reflectance daily product (MOD09GQ) Band 1 (620-670 nm) which are now routinely available at 250 m spatial resolution and corrected for atmospheric effect. This study shows this product to be useful to estimate turbidity in Tampa Bay, Florida, after rainfall events (R2 = 0.76, n = 34). Within Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay (HB) and Old Tampa Bay (OTB) presented higher turbidity compared to Middle Tampa Bay (MTB) and Lower Tampa Bay (LTB).

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Remote Sensing, v. 2, issue 12, p. 2713-2728