Chesapeake Bay Water Resources – NASA DEVELOP Spring 2017 @ NASA Langley Research Center

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[music] >> Danielle: The Chesapeake Bay Watershedis a diverse ecosystem consisting of freshwater, brackish and saltwater spanning 7 states alongthe East Coast and is home to a variety of flora and fauna.

Bay grasses that grow in the shallow watersof the Bay provide food and habitat for fish, crabs and waterfowl.

More than 16 species of bay grasses are foundin the Bay and its tributaries.

>> Tish: "SAV or submerged aquatic vegetationis important because it actually integrates water quality.

It basically gives you a good indication ofwhether or not nutrient loads are optimal, sediment loads, and they reflect habitat.

You got a good SAV habitat; you got a goodhabitat for blue crabs, for young fish, you can support a very viable fishery if you gotgood SAV so it is a way to make our assessments holistic and not just focus on individualwater quality parameters but overall ecosystem health.

" >> Collin: The Virginia Department of EnvironmentalQuality (VADEQ) works with the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program.

Together they follow goals set out by ChesapeakeBay Watershed Agreement.

This includes focusing on nutrient point sourcereduction, toxic substance reduction, and a monitoring program >> Tish: "We're all about leveraging asmany datasets we can get our hands on so that we can produce really confident assessments.

>> Collin: Turbidity is the haziness of afluid, and therefore is often used to measure water quality.

In this project we assesed turbidity levelsin the Chesapeake Bay to better understand the health of aquatic habitats.

To look at turbidity, we used a NormalizedDifference Turbidity Index calculated from NASA Earth observations.

The two NASA Earth observations used wereLandsat 5 Thematic Mapper and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager.

With this data along with on the ground data,the team created a model that can be applied to provide an estimate of water clarity throughoutthe entire bay.

>> Danielle: Sedimentation and turbidity lessenthe amount of light through the water column, affecting the growth and resiliency of SAV.

Because the SAV are sensitive to their environment,changes in light attenuation can be catastrophic for the beds of vegetation throughout thebay making monitoring efforts imperative.