A satellite view of riverine turbidity plumes on the NE-E Brazilian coastal zone

  • Eduardo Negri de Oliveira Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro; Departamento de Oceanografia Física
  • Bastiaan Adriaan Knoppers Universidade Federal Fluminense; Departamento de Geoquímica
  • João Antônio Lorenzzetti Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais
  • Paulo Ricardo Petter Medeiros Universidade Federal de Alagoas; Laboratório Natural e Ciências do Mar
  • Maria Eulália Carneiro Petrobras SA
  • Weber Friederichs Landim de Souza Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia; Laboratório de Metrologia Analítica e Química
Keywords: remote sensing, Landsat, turbidity plumes, suspended sediments, river systems, NE-E Brazil


Turbidity plumes of São Francisco, Caravelas, Doce, and Paraiba do Sul river systems, located along the NE/E Brazilian coast, are analyzed for their dispersal patterns of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) concentration using Landsat images and a logarithmic algorithm proposed by Tassan (1987) to convert satellite reflectance values to TSS. The TSS results obtained were compared to in situ collected TSS data. The analysis of the satellite image data set revealed that each river system exhibits a distinct turbidity plume dispersal pattern. The behavior, dimension and degree of turbidity of the São Francisco River plume have been greatly altered by the construction of a cascade of hydroelectric dam reservoirs in its hydrological basin. The plume has lost its typical unimodal seasonal pattern of material dispersion and its turbidity has decreased due to the regulation of river flow by the dams and TSS retainance by the reservoirs. In contrast, the Doce and Paraíba do Sul river plumes are still subject to seasonal pulsations and show more turbid conditions than the SF plume, as dams are less numerous, set in the middle river sections and the natural river flow has been maintained. The Caravelas Coastal System river plume is restricted to near shore shallow waters dominated by resuspension processes. During austral spring and summer when NE-E winds prevail, all plumes generally disperse southward. Short-term northward reversals may occur in winter with the passage of atmospheric cold fronts. The São Francisco and Doce river plumes tend to disperse obliquely to the coast and transport materials further offshore, while the Caravelas and Paraíba do Sul plumes tend to disperse mainly parallel to the coast, enhancing TSS retention nearshore.


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How to Cite
Oliveira, E., Knoppers, B., Lorenzzetti, J., Medeiros, P., Carneiro, M., & Souza, W. (2012). A satellite view of riverine turbidity plumes on the NE-E Brazilian coastal zone. Brazilian Journal of Oceanography, 60(3), 283-298. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592012000300002