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1 January 2010 Detection of a buoyant coastal wastewater discharge using airborne hyperspectral and infrared imagery
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Municipal wastewater discharged into the ocean through a submerged pipe, or outfall, can rise buoyantly to the sea surface, resulting in a near-field mixing zone and, in the presence of an ambient ocean current, an extended surface plume. In this paper, data from a CASI (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager) and an airborne infrared (IR) camera are shown to detect a municipal wastewater discharge off the southeast coast of Florida, U.S.A., through its elevated levels of chromophoric dissolved organic matter plus detrital material (CDOM) and cooler sea surface temperatures. CDOM levels within a ~15-m-diameter surface 'boil' are found to be about twice those in the ambient shelf water, and surface temperatures near the boil are lower by ~0.4°C, comparable to the vertical temperature difference across the ambient water column. The CASI and IR imagery show a nearly identically shaped buoyant plume, consistent with a fully surfacing discharge, but the IR data more accurately delineate the area of most rapid dilution as compared with previous in-situ measurements. The imagery also allows identification of ambient oceanographic processes that affect dispersion and transport in the far field. This includes an alongshore front, which limits offshore dispersion of the discharge, and shoreward-propagating nonlinear internal waves, which may be responsible for an enhanced onshore transport of the discharge.
George O. Marmorino, Geoffrey B. Smith, W. David Miller, and Jeffrey Bowles "Detection of a buoyant coastal wastewater discharge using airborne hyperspectral and infrared imagery," Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 4(1), 043502 (1 January 2010).
Published: 1 January 2010

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