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Linking optical data and nitrates in the Lower Mississippi River to enable satellite-based monitoring of nutrient reduction goals
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  • Dr. Nicholas Tufillaro,
  • Bryan Piazza,
  • S. Reddy,
  • J. Baustian,
  • D. Sousa,
  • P. Grötsch,
  • * Lalović,
  • De Moitié,
  • * Zurita
Dr. Nicholas Tufillaro
Gybe Inc

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Bryan Piazza
Baton Rouge General Medical Center
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S. Reddy
Nature Conservancy
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J. Baustian
Baton Rouge General Medical Center
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D. Sousa
San Diego State University Department of Geography
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P. Grötsch
Gybe Inc
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* Lalović
Gybe Inc
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De Moitié
Gybe Inc
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* Zurita
O Gybe Inc
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Abstract

Hypoxic zones and associated nitrate pollution from farms, cities, and industrial facilities is driving declines in water quality that affect ecosystems, economies and human health in major rivers and coastal areas worldwide. In the Mississippi River, the United States Environmental Protection Agency set a goal of reducing nitrogen loading 20% by 2025 but estimating progress toward this goal is difficult because data from in-stream gauges and laboratory samples are too sparse. Satellites have the potential to provide sufficient data across the Mississippi River, if a key methodological challenge can be overcome. Satellites provide data from visible light, but nitrates are only observable with ultraviolet light. We address this methodological challenge by using a two-step surrogate modeling procedure to link optical data and nitrates in the Lower Mississippi River. First, we correlate in-situ nitrate measurements to common water quality parameters, particularly turbidity and chlorophyll, using data from water sensors installed at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, and a long-term data set from Louisiana State University. Second, we correlate these water quality data to satellite estimates of water quality parameters. We found a correlation between these water quality parameters and nitrate concentrations, as indicated by a coefficient of determination, when the relationship was viewed in non-linear parameter space. The spatial extent of the correlation was tested with an upstream nitrate sensor 140 km north of the estimation location. These results provide proof-of-concept that we can develop models that use satellite data to provide large scale monitoring of nitrates across the Mississippi River Basin and other impaired rivers, globally.
22 Aug 2023Submitted to Ecohydrology
24 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
24 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
25 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
25 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned