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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(1), 415-431; doi:10.3390/rs5010415

Satellite-Observed Black Water Events off Southwest Florida: Implications for Coral Reef Health in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Avenue, South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University, 5600 US 1 North, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA
Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic & Meterological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 November 2012 / Revised: 4 January 2013 / Accepted: 8 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
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A “black water” event, as observed from satellites, occurred off southwest Florida in 2012. Satellite observations suggested that the event started in early January and ended in mid-April 2012. The black water patch formed off central west Florida and advected southward towards Florida Bay and the Florida Keys with the shelf circulation, which was confirmed by satellite-tracked surface drifter trajectories. Compared with a previous black water event in 2002, the 2012 event was weaker in terms of spatial and temporal coverage. An in situ survey indicated that the 2012 black water patch contained toxic K. brevis and had relatively low CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) and turbidity but high chlorophyll-a concentrations, while salinity was somewhat high compared with historical values. Further analysis revealed that the 2012 black water was formed by the K. brevis bloom initiated off central west Florida in late September 2011, while river runoff, Trichodesmium and possibly submarine groundwater discharge also played important roles in its formation. Black water patches can affect benthic coral reef communities by decreasing light availability at the bottom, and enhanced nutrient concentrations from black water patches support massive macroalgae growth that can overgrow coral reefs. It is thus important to continue the integrated observations where satellites provide synoptic and repeated observations of such adverse water quality events.
Keywords: “black water”; MODIS; SeaWiFS; water quality; coral reef; Florida Keys “black water”; MODIS; SeaWiFS; water quality; coral reef; Florida Keys

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhao, J.; Hu, C.; Lapointe, B.; Melo, N.; Johns, E.M.; Smith, R.H. Satellite-Observed Black Water Events off Southwest Florida: Implications for Coral Reef Health in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 415-431.

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