Optical Oceanography

The research programme in optical oceanography at Menai bridge is particularly concerned with the optics of turbid water. Highlights of this work include the development of methods for determining the surface concentration of suspended sediments from visible band satellite images, and the application of these measurements to improve our modelling of the physics of suspended sediments in shelf seas. This work continues, and recent advanced have included a successful explanation of isolated turbidity maxima, which appear to defy diffusion, and development of methods for estimating suspended sediment floc size from space.

A second theme here has been the optics of coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM), and the exploration of the possibilities of remote sensing of salinity in estuaries, using CDOM as a proxy. Not all of this work has been confined to Europe: in 1998 a survey was conducted of the optics of the Zambezi river plume, and collaborations and field work have been and carried out with staff at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, during which we developed and tested a theory of the interaction of the solar daily cycle and the tide. Much of this work is too recent to have been cited much, but one recent paper “Interpreting the colour of an estuary” was the third most downloaded paper from the journal’s science direct web site for 2004.

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