Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-569
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-569

  16 Dec 2020

16 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Applicability of Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor to Identify Submarine Groundwater Discharge Springs in the Mediterranean Sea Basin

Sònia Jou-Claus1,2, Albert Folch1,2, and Jordi Garcia-Orellana3,4 Sònia Jou-Claus et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Jordi Girona 1-3, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Associated Unit: Hydrogeology Group (UPC-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals – ICTA, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
  • 4Departament de Física, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

Abstract. Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) has received increasing attention over the past two decades as a source of nutrients, trace elements and pollutants to the ocean that may alter coastal biogeochemical cycles. Assessing submarine groundwater flows and their impacts on coastal marine environments is a difficult task since it is not easy to identify and measure these water flows discharging into the sea. The aim of this study is to prove the great usefulness of the freely-available thermal infrared (TIR) imagery of the Landsat 8 thermal infrared sensor (TIRS) as an exploratory tool to identify SGD springs worldwide, from local to regional scales, for long-term analysis. The use of satellite thermal data as a technique to identify SGD springs in seawater is based on the identification of thermally-anomalous plumes obtained from the thermal contrasts between groundwater and sea surface water. We propose a conceptual framework to apply this technique worldwide and also discuss the limitations of using this technique in SGD studies. The study was developed on a regional scale in karstic coastal aquifers in the Mediterranean Sea basin at different seasons and diverse meteorological conditions. Although this study demonstrates that the freely-available satellite TIR remote sensing is a useful method to identify coastal springs in karst aquifers both locally and regionally, the limiting factors include technical limitations, geological/hydrogeological characteristics, environmental and marine conditions and coastal geomorphology.

Sònia Jou-Claus et al.

 
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Sònia Jou-Claus et al.

Sònia Jou-Claus et al.

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Short summary
Satellite TIR remote sensing is a useful method to identify coastal springs in karst aquifers both locally and regionally, the limiting factors include technical limitations, geological/hydrogeological characteristics, environmental and marine conditions and coastal geomorphology. Also, it can serve as a tool to use for a first screen of the coastal water surface temperature to identify possible thermal anomalies that will help narrow the sampling survey.