Mid-Atlantic coastal waters are under increasing pressures from anthropogenic disturbances at various temporal and spatial scales exacerbated by the climate change. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 10 of the 22 estuaries in the Mid-Atlantic, including the Chesapeake Bay, exhibit high levels of eutrophic conditions while seven, including Delaware Bay, exhibit low conditions. Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuarine system in the United States and undergoes frequent eutrophication and low dissolved oxygen events. Although substantially lower in nutrients compared to other Mid-Atlantic Estuaries, the biological, chemical, and ecological status of the Delaware Bay has changed in the past few decades due to high coastal tourism, increased local resident populations, and agricultural activities which have increased nutrient inputs into this shallow coastal bay. As stated by the Academy of Natural Sciences, although the nutrient load has reduced since the Clean Water Act, years of nutrient accumulation, contaminations, and sedimentation have impacted estuarine systems substantially, long-term monitoring is lacking, and ecological responses are not well quantified. Eutrophication within the Bays has degraded water quality conditions advanced by sedimentation. Understanding the quality of the water in any aquatic ecosystem is a critical first step in order to identify characteristics of that ecosystem and draw conclusions about how well adapted the system is in terms of anthropogenic activity and climate change. Determining water quality in intertidal creeks along the Chesapeake and Delaware coastlines is important because land cover is constantly changing. Many of these tidal creeks are lined with forested riparian buffers that may be intercepting nutrients from running off into the waterways. Identifying water conditions, coupled with the marsh land cover, provides a strong foundation to see if the buffer systems are providing the ecosystem services they are designed to provide. Our primary goal in this chapter is to provide research findings on the application of the hyperspectral remote sensing to monitor specific land-use activities and water quality. Along with hyperspectral remote sensing, our monitoring was coupled with the integration of remotely sensed data, global positioning system (GPS), and geographic information system (GIS) technologies that provide a valuable tool for monitoring and assessing waterways in the Mid-Atlantic Estuaries.
Part of the book: Water Quality