A general algorithm for determining suspended sediment concentrations in the surface waters of estuaries has been developed for use with satellite data. The algorithm uses a three-parameter general optical equation to relate suspended sediment concentrations to water reflectances that have been corrected for sun angle effects, atmospheric path radiance, and tidal excursion. Using data collected by the advanced very high resolution radiometer on five different dates, reflectances were determined using two different methods, one providing maximum correction for haze and the other providing minimum sensitivity to pigments. For both methods, in situ and remotely sensed samples from Delaware Bay acquired within 3.5 hours of each other agreed to within 60% at the 95% confidence level. Pixel and subpixel scale spatial variations and variability associated with in situ measurements produced about 50% of the differences. Chlorophyll concentrations of >50 μg/L produced a discrepancy in the reflectance method that provided the best haze correction. The parameter values may be adjusted to allow for variations in sediment size and pigment variations, allowing application of the calibration to estuaries having optically different suspended sediments.


School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Geophysical Reasearch: C Oceans


American Geophysical Union Publications

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type