Satellite observations of turbidity in the Dead Sea



[1] A methodology to attain daily variability of turbidity in the Dead Sea by means of remote sensing was developed. 250 m/pixel moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) surface reflectance data were used to characterize the seasonal cycle of turbidity and plume spreading generated by flood events in the lake. Fifteen minutes interval images from meteosat second generation 1.6 km/pixel high-resolution visible (HRV) channel were used to monitor daily variations of turbidity. The HRV reflectance was normalized throughout the day to correct for the changing geometry and then calibrated against available MODIS surface reflectance. Finally, hourly averaged reflectance maps are presented for summer and winter. The results show that turbidity is concentrated along the silty shores of the lake and the southern embayments, with a gradual decrease of turbidity values from the shoreline toward the center of the lake. This pattern is most pronounced following the nighttime hours of intense winds. A few hours after winds calm the concentric turbidity pattern fades. In situ and remote sensing observations show a clear relation between wind intensity, wave amplitude and water turbidity. In summer and winter similar concentric turbidity patterns are observed but with a much narrower structure in winter. A simple Lagrangain trajectory model suggests that the combined effects of horizontal transport and vertical mixing of suspended particles leads to more effective mixing in winter. The dynamics of suspended matter contributions from winter desert floods are also presented in terms of hourly turbidity maps showing the spreading of the plumes and their decay.