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Inflow of Shelf Waters into the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay Estuaries in October 2015

Cambazoglu, M. K., Soto, I. M., Howden, S. D., Dzwonkowski, B., Fitzpatrick, P. J., Arnone, R. A., Jacobs, G. A., & Lau, Y. H. (2017). Inflow of Shelf Waters into the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay Estuaries in October 2015. J. Applied Remote Sensing. 11, 032410. DOI:10.1117/1.JRS.11.032410.


The exchange of coastal waters between the Mississippi Sound (MSS), Mobile Bay and Mississippi Bight is an important pathway for oil and pollutants into coastal ecosystems. This study investigated an event of strong and persistent inflow of shelf waters into MSS and Mobile Bay during October 2015 by combining in-situ measurements, satellite ocean color data and ocean model predictions. Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM) predicted high salinity shelf waters continuously flowing into the estuarine system, and forecasted low salinity waters trapped inside the estuaries which did not flush out until the passage of tropical cyclone Patricia’s remnants in late October. The October 2015 chlorophyll-a anomaly was significantly low inside and outside the MSS for the 2003-2015 time series. Similar low chlorophyll-a anomalies were only seen in 2003. The October 2015 mean in-situ salinities were up to 8 psu higher than means from 2007 to 2014, and some estuarine stations showed persistent salinities above 30 psu for almost a month in agreement with model predictions. October 2015 was associated with low fall seasonal discharge, typical of fall season, and wind which was persistently out of the east to southeast [45-180]°. These persistent wind conditions were linked to the observed anomalous conditions.

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