Doxaran, D, Froidefond, JM, Castaing, P, Babin, M (2009). "Dynamics of the turbidity maximum zone in a macrotidal estuary (the Gironde, France): Observations from field and MODIS satellite data". ESTUARINE COASTAL AND SHELF SCIENCE, 81(3), 321-332.
Over a 1-year period, field and satellite measurements of surface water turbidity were combined in order to study the dynamics of the turbidity maximum zone (TM) in a macrotidal estuary (the Gironde, France). Four fixed platforms equipped with turbidity sensors calibrated to give the suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentration provided continuous information in the upper estuary. Full resolution data recorded by the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors onboard the Terra and Aqua satellite platforms provided information in the central and lower estuary twice a day (depending on cloud cover). Field data were used to validate a recently developed SPM quantification algorithm applied to the MODIS 'surface reflectance' product. The algorithm is based on a relationship between the SPM concentration and a reflectance ratio of MODIS bands 2 (near-infrared) and 1 (red). Based on 62 and 75 match-ups identified in 2005 with MODIS Terra and Aqua data, the relative uncertainty of the algorithm applied to these sensors was found to be 22 and 18%, respectively. Field measurements showed the tidal variations of turbidity in the upper estuary, while monthly-averaged MODIS satellite data complemented by field data allowed observing the monthly movements of the TM in the whole estuary. The trapping of fine sediments occurred in the upper estuary during the period of low river flow. This resulted in the formation of a highly concentrated TM during a 4-month period. With increasing river flow, the TM moved rapidly to the central estuary. A part of the TM detached, moved progressively in the lower estuary and was finally either massively exported to the ocean during peak floods or temporary trapped (settled) on intertidal mudflats. The massive export to the ocean was apparently the result of combined favorable environmental conditions: presence of fluid mud near the mouth, high river flow, high tides and limited wind speeds. The mean SPM concentration within surface waters of the whole estuary showed strong seasonal variations but remained almost unchanged on a 1-year-basis. These observations suggest that the masses of suspended sediments exported toward the ocean and supplied by the rivers were almost equivalent during the year investigated (2005). Results show the usefulness of information extracted from combined field and current ocean color satellite data in order to monitor the transport of suspended particles in coastal and estuarine waters. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.