NASA Aquarius Sensor analyzes Amazon River plume phenomenon

Image showing Aquarius sensor sea surface salinity used to monitor the Amazon river delta plume

Aquarius sensor sea surface salinity used to monitor the Amazon river delta plume

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

Authors: Ashley Coffin, Clemson University; Chase Mueller, University of Texas at San Antonio; Christina Welch, University of West Florida; Jakeb Prickett, University of Oregon; Jeanette Pineda, Chapman University; Lauren Gimmillaro, Stanford University; Trever Johnson, College of William and Mary.

Advisors/Mentors: Dr. Kenton Ross, NASA Langley Research Center

Abstract: This project focused on providing Brazilian agencies with a method for monitoring sea surface salinity using the newly launched Aquarius sensor along with other NASA EOS. At the mouth of the Amazon, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, a large low-salinity plume phenomenon occurs extending approximately 200-500 kilometers off the coastline. The plume is visible from space, and its salinity can now be directly measured by the Aquarius sensor. Currently, processed Aquarius data eliminates all returns containing terrestrial signatures. The elimination of this data prohibits sea surface salinity levels from being assessed along coastlines, areas in which sea surface salinity levels directly impact the health of local eco-regions. The combination of Earth observation utilities and in-situ data allowed for a complete analysis of the plume and its sources. This work enabled further testing of Aquarius’ limits and helped to create a method of extending the satellite’s measurement capabilities closer to the coastline.

Summer VPS > Water Resources and Oceans

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