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STAR Uses MODIS-Aqua to Show Suspended Matter Plume Caused by 2011 Mississippi River Flood

At Right:
Typical Conditions on the Mississippi River

This image shows monthly total suspended matter (TSM) climatology for May from MODIS-Aqua observations from 2002-2008 (see Shi and Wang (2009)). The color scale is the same for the May 6 and 17, 2011 images below.

Below:
May 2011 Flood Conditions on the Mississippi River

Top: NASA MODIS-Aqua-measured true color images taken on May 6 (left) and 17 (right), 2011 in the Mississippi River delta.
Bottom: MODIS-Aqua-derived total suspended matter (TSM) concentration on May 6 and 17, 2011 from the region.
TSM is in mg/l and the scale is indicated in the color bar at the right.

Monthly total suspended matter TSM climatology images for May from MODIS-Aqua observations from 2002-2008
  
NASA MODIS-Aqua-measured true color image & MODIS-Aqua-derived total suspended matter (TSM) concentration, May 6, 2011 NASA MODIS-Aqua-measured true color image & MODIS-Aqua-derived total suspended matter (TSM) concentration, May 17, 2011
 

May 21, 2011 - The 2011 Mississippi River Flood not only caused extensive damage along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, but also significantly affected the coastal environments in the lower Mississippi River such as the Mississippi River Delta and Lake Pontchartrain. STAR scientists Menghua Wang and Wei Shi used MODIS-Aqua images to capture the coastal environmental changes within this 10-day period in May. Detailed total suspended matter (TSM) concentrations in the lower Mississippi River were produced from the MODIS-Aqua observations after using the shortwave infrared (SWIR) atmospheric correction algorithm to process MODIS-Aqua data. These two cases are compared with the monthly climatology TSM results in May (see image at top). On May 6, 2011, the TSM concentration was about 25 mg/l in the Mississippi River Estuary, while in Lake Pontchartrain the TSM concentration was less than ~5 mg/l. These values were slightly higher that the climatology TSM for this season (see image at top.)

On May 17, 2011, as the river's flooding progressed, the TSM concentration in the estuary was elevated significantly and reached about 35mg/l, even though the coverage area of high TSM waters did not show significant change. In Lake Pontchartrain, a large area of flood-driven turbid water plume was observed. The TSM concentration exceeded ~30mg/l. Enhanced TSM concentration was also observed in the Atchafalaya River Estuary. The changes to the coastal environment and the flood-driven Mississippi River plume over a short period are similar to the flood-driven enhanced Mississippi River plume in 2008. (see Shi & Wang (2009))

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