Satellites Over Troubled Waters: Stormwater Runoff in the Great Lakes

Total suspended sediment (TSS) of western Lake Superior on June 25, 2012, derived from Aqua MODIS surface reflectance data. Image Credit: DEVELOP Great Lakes Team.

Total suspended sediment (TSS) of western Lake Superior on June 25, 2012, derived from Aqua MODIS surface reflectance data. Image Credit: DEVELOP Great Lakes Team.



Authors: Andrea Ehlen, Joe Regan

Mentors/Advisors (affiliation): Dr. Kenton Ross (Langley Research Center)

Past/Other Contributors: Sindhu Ethamukkala, University of North Dakota

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

Abstract: As population and urban sprawl increase in the Great Lakes region, the interaction between humans and the near-shore habitat is escalating. Shoreline development contributes to an increase in stormwater discharge into the surrounding streams, rivers, and lakes, adversely impacting the water quality and raising concern for the delicate near-shore ecosystems. The U.S./Canadian Great Lakes are some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, surrounded by large cities and agricultural expanses in a climatically wet region. These factors have contributed to the Great Lakes facing a substantial stormwater runoff impact and one that has become an important policy concern for the region. In order to effectively govern the impact of stormwater runoff, policymakers are in need of a more thorough and scientifically-based understanding of the impacts associated with the issue. This project looks to provide a synoptic view of the near-shore interaction by using NASA Earth observations to map and monitor both the land and water environments. Specific extreme precipitation events were identified through weather station data, as well as Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observed rainfall measurements so that the impact of extreme events on water quality was analyzed. To monitor water quality levels following extreme rainfall/snowmelt events, a time series of maps of chlorophyll anomalies and total suspended sediment (TSS) were generated using MODIS products. The data from this suite of sensors was analyzed for relationships between shoreline-adjacent land cover and near-shore water quality to improve understanding of that interaction for policymakers and assist in the establishment of a baseline for future sustainable growth.



Transcript available here.


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