Identifying metocean drivers of turbidity using 18 years of modis satellite data: Implications for marine ecosystems under climate change

Paula J. Cartwright, Peter R.C.S. Fearns, Paul Branson, Michael V.W. Cutler, Michael O’leary, Nicola K. Browne, Ryan J. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Turbidity impacts the growth and productivity of marine benthic habitats due to light limitation. Daily/monthly synoptic and tidal influences often drive turbidity fluctuations, however, our understanding of what drives turbidity across seasonal/interannual timescales is often limited, thus impeding our ability to forecast climate change impacts to ecologically significant habitats. Here, we analysed long term (18-year) MODIS-aqua data to derive turbidity and the associated meteorological and oceanographic (metocean) processes in an arid tropical embayment (Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia) within the eastern Indian Ocean. We found turbidity was associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycles as well as Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events. Winds from the adjacent terrestrial region were also associated with turbidity and an upward trend in turbidity was evident in the body of the gulf over the 18 years. Our results identify hydrological processes that could be affected by global climate cycles undergoing change and reveal opportunities for managers to reduce impacts to ecologically important ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3616
JournalRemote Sensing
Volume13
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

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