Ferry-based monitoring of surface water quality in North Carolina estuaries

Journal Article

Several interrelated factors affect water quality in the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System (APES) including land use change in the upland and coastal watersheds, legislatively mandated basin-wide nutrient management plans, intense storms, and global and local changes in sea level. Despite its importance as an essential fish habitat, the APES has not been monitored as intensively or extensively for habitat impacts associated with decreased water quality as other estuaries have been, such as with the North Carolina tributary estuaries or Chesapeake Bay. To support the sustainable use of these estuaries, we are developing an automated water quality monitoring system aboard ferries that traverse the APES. This program, FerryMon, provides a unique, long-term, and cost-effective monitoring system to evaluate status and trends in APES water quality. Intensive temporal and spatial data obtained from all ferry routes provide an environmental baseline and are used to assess the patterns and variability in surface water hydrography, dissolved constituents, and particulate matter. The data are useful to calibrate estimates of ocean color and sea surface temperature from aircraft and satellite sensors. We are creating a searchable geographic database that is intended for scientists, managers, and the general public. Using ferries as sampling platforms to monitor estuarine water quality is a tractable approach and FerryMon represents a model for use in other large bodies of water traversed by ferries.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Buzzelli, CP; Ramus, J; Paerl, HW

Published Date

  • 2003

Published In

  • Estuaries

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 4 A

Start / End Page

  • 975 - 984