Satellite ocean color observations of stormwater runoff plumes alongthe San Pedro Shelf (southern California) during 1997–2003

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Knowledge of freshwater runoff plume dynamics in southern California is important for management of coastal water quality, because river discharge associated with episodic winter rainstorms can be a major source of pollutants and pathogens to coastal waters. The purpose of this study was to analyze the spatio-temporal dynamics of plumes at the San Pedro Shelf in southern California and identify factors influencingthe incidence and dispersal patterns of plumes. We used 1.1-km spatial resolution satellite images collected in 1997–2003 by the SeaWiFS optical radiometer. The area of each plume was detected by the backscatteringcharacteristics of surface waters in the vicinity of the mouths of four rivers that discharge to the San Pedro Basin.

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