Mapping the pollutants in surface riverine flood plume waters in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Abstract

The extent of flood plume water over a 10 year period was mapped using quasi-true colour imagery and used to calculate long-term frequency of occurrence of the plumes. The proportional contribution of riverine loads of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, total suspended sediments and Photosystem-II herbicides from each catchment was used to scale the surface exposure maps for each pollutant. A classification procedure was also applied to satellite imagery (only Wet Tropics region) during 11 flood events (2000-2010) through processing of level-2 ocean colour products to discriminate the changing characteristics across three water types: "primary plume water", characterised by high TSS values; "secondary plume water", characterised by high phytoplankton production as measured by elevated chlorophyll-a (chl-a), and "tertiary plume water", characterised by elevated coloured dissolved and detrital matter (CDOM+D). This classification is a first step to characterise flood plumes.

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