P1010429In the hot and humid last days of August, a group of NOAA-CREST students cruised the Chesapeake Bay to analyze water and air quality. Undergraduate students Lena Lai and Kaveh Bastani, graduate students Robert Foster, Amir Ibrahim, Carlos Carrizo and Ahmed el Habashi, and post-doctoral researcher Yannis Ioannou, measured spatial gradients and temporal dynamics in ocean bio-optical properties and atmospheric composition, in an effort to better understand coastal ocean biogeochemical processes and evaluate satellite retrievals of ocean color in this complex and diverse estuarine environment.  Professor Alex Gilerson from NOAA-CREST, Dr. Maria Tzortziou from the University of Maryland/NASA, and Dr. Mike Ondrusek from NOAA/NESDIS/STAR led the excursion as chief scientists and supervisors. Researchers conducted measurements on boats from three different locations: Solomons, Maryland, Norfolk, Virginia and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) near Annapolis, Maryland. After two weeks of collecting data, the group had extensive information on coastal ocean dynamics and land-ocean exchanges along the estuarine wetland interface. This data also revealed changes in atmospheric and in-water conditions throughout the Chesapeake ecosystem, from the turbid and optically complex upper part of the Bay all the way to the mouth of the estuary. The team retrieved measurements of in-water profiles of light attenuation, optical properties of in-water constituents including absorption, scattering, backscattering and fluorescence, in-water polarization, water physicochemical properties, concentrations of coastal water biogeochemical variables, total suspended sediments, and atmospheric aerosol optical thickness. These data sets will allow researchers to evaluate and improve satellite retrievals of biogeochemical processes in coastal ocean ecosystems, and will prepare scientists for future satellite ocean color missions.

CREST students gain hands-on training to understand enviromental changes using remote sensing science and technology