Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D.


SeaWiFS, MODIS, Bio-optical sensors, Turbidity, Water clarity


Water quality in Tampa Bay was examined using concurrent in situ and satellite remote sensing observations. Chlorophyll and suspended sediment concentrations showed large short-term variability, primarily driven by tide and wind forcing. Superimposed on these high frequency variations were recurrent phytoplankton blooms stimulated by decreases in turbidity 1-2 days after wind-induced bottom sediment resuspension events; the blooms were particularly strong if neap tides occurred after the wind events. The in situ data show that observations once per month are inadequate to sample short-term variability and that therefore the current monthly water quality surveys may have uncertainties of -50 to 200% if they are used to represent the monthly mean concentrations of chlorophyll or suspended sediment. Such uncertainties make it difficult to identify trends and interannual variability based on the in situ monitoring program.

Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) generally showed good relationship with salinity and primarily delivered by riverine inputs but showed conservative and non-conservative mixing behaviors for the dry and wet seasons, respectively. CDOM in Old Tampa Bay (OTB), however, showed properties that were different from those in other Bay segments, and the non-conservative CDOM mixing behavior may be simply due to a three-end-member mixing scenario in which Hillsborough Bay and Middle Tampa Bay also receive water from Old Tampa Bay. A turbidity algorithm was successfully developed for application of MODIS/Aqua 250 m imagery. The MODIS turbidity images showed distinct spatial and temporal patterns related to river runoff in the upper bay and wind-induced sediment resuspension events in the middle and lower portions of the Bay.

Similarly, light attenuation from SeaWiFS estimated using a new semi-analytical algorithm confirmed that water clarity was related to river runoff and to wind-induced sediment resuspension events. Wind is shown repeatedly to be another important factor controlling water quality in the Bay. The study shows that remote sensing products have the potential to be an important tool to help resource managers assess conditions in a large estuary like Tampa Bay synoptically, frequently and repeatedly.