The Sahelian region is characterized by significant variations in precipitation, impacting water quantity and quality. Suspended particulate matter (SPM) dynamics has a significant impact on inland water ecology and water resource management. In-situ data in this region are scarce and, consequently, the environmental factors triggering SPM variability are yet to be understood. This study addresses these issues using remote sensing optical data. Turbidity and SPM of the Agoufou Lake in Sahelian Mali were measured from October 2014 to present, providing a large range of `values (SPM ranging from 106 to 4178 mg/L). These data are compared to satellite reflectance from Landsat (ETM+, OLI) and MODIS (MOD09GQ, MYD09GQ). For each of these sensors, a spectral band in the near infrared region is found to be well suited to retrieve turbidity and SPM, up to very high values (R2
= 0.70) seldom addressed by remote sensing studies. The satellite estimates are then employed to assess the SPM dynamics in the main lakes and ponds of the Gourma region and its links to environmental and anthropogenic factors. The main SPM seasonal peak is observed in the rainy season (June to September) in relation to precipitation and sediment transport. A second important peak occurs during the dry season, highlighting the importance of resuspension mechanisms in maintaining high values of SPM. Three different periods are observed: first, a relatively low winds period in the early dry season, when SPM decreases rapidly due to deposition; then, a period of wind-driven resuspension in January‒March; and lastly, an SPM deposition period in April–May, when the monsoon replaces the winter trade wind. Overall, a significant increase of 27% in SPM values is observed between 2000 and 2016 in the Agoufou Lake. The significant spatio-temporal variability in SPM revealed by this study highlights the importance of high resolution optical sensors for continuous monitoring of water quality in these poorly instrumented regions.
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