Elkhorn Slough: Detecting Eutrophication through Geospatial Modeling

Category: Land Cover Change and Disturbances
Project Team: Elkhorn Slough: Detecting Eutrophication through Geospatial Modeling
Team Location: Elkhorn Slough Ecological Forecasting

The Floating Algal Index (FAI) for April-November 2013 in the Elkhorn Slough, California Landsat 8 OLI imagery was analyzed to identify eutrophication hotspots. Image Credit: Elkhorn Slough team

The Floating Algal Index (FAI) for April-November 2013 in the Elkhorn Slough, California Landsat 8 OLI imagery was analyzed to identify eutrophication hotspots. Image Credit: Elkhorn Slough team

Authors:
Irma Caraballo Álvarez
Abigail Childs
Kirsten Jurich

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Juan L. Torres-Pérez (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute)
Dr. Sherry L. Palacios (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute)

Past/Other Contributors:
Chippie Kislik (Center Lead)
Martha Sayre

Abstract:

Elkhorn Slough in Monterey, California, has experienced substantial nutrient loading and eutrophication as a result of fertilizer-rich runoff from nearby agricultural fields. This study seeks to identify and track spatial patterns of eutrophication hotspots and the correlation to land-use changes, possible nutrient sources, and general climatic trends using remotely sensed and in situ data. Threats of rising sea level, subsiding marshes, and increased eutrophication hotspots demonstrate the necessity to analyze the effects of increasing nutrient loads, relative sea level changes, and sedimentation within Elkhorn Slough. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model integrated specified inputs to assess nutrient and sediment loading and their sources. TerrSet’s Land Change Modeler forecasted the future potential of land change transitions for various land cover classes around the slough as a result of nutrient loading, eutrophication, and increased sedimentation. TerrSet’s Earth Trends Modeler provided a comprehensive analysis of image time series to rapidly assess long-term eutrophication trends and detect spatial patterns of known hotspots. Results from this study will inform future coastal management structures and provide greater spatial and temporal insight into Elkhorn Slough eutrophication dynamics.

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