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Rim Katlane, Bouchra Nechad, Kevin Ruddick and Fouad Zargouni (2013)

Optical remote sensing of turbidity and total suspended matter in the Gulf of Gabes

ARABIAN JOURNAL OF GEOSCIENCES, 6(5):1527-1535.

Optical remote sensing was used to provide scientific information to support environmental management in the Gulf of Gabes that is located in the southeastern coast of Tunisia. This region is characterized by shallow continental shelf subjected to semi-diurnal tides. Industrial activities in this area since the early 1970s may have contributed to the degradation of the biodiversity of the ecosystem with eutrophication problems and disappearance of benthic and planktonic species. To assess the long-term effect of anthropogenic and natural discharges on the Gulf of Gabes, the optical environment of the coastal waters is assessed from in situ measurements of total suspended matter concentration (TSM), Secchi depth and turbidity (TU). This monitoring requires regular seaborne measurements (monthly), which is very expensive and difficult to obtain. The objective of the present study is the evaluation of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) AQUA data compared with two sampling campaigns realized at the study area. To map turbidity data from MODIS images, a semi-empirical algorithm was applied at band 667 nm. This bio-optical algorithm has already been calibrated and validated on the Belgian coast. The validation of this algorithm on the Gulf of Gabes using in situ measurements of turbidity and remotely sensed turbidity obtained from MODIS imagery shows a correlation coefficient of 68.9\%. Seasonal and annual average maps for TSM and TU were then computed over the Gulf of Gabes using MODIS imagery. The obtained results of TSM and TU from remotely sensed data are conformable with those obtained through the analysis of in situ measurements. Therefore, remote sensing techniques offer a better and efficient tool for mapping and monitoring turbidity over the whole region.

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