Acoustic and optical methods to infer water transparency at Time Series Station Spiekeroog, Wadden Sea
Abstract. Water transparency is a primary indicator of optical water quality that is driven by suspended particulate and dissolved material. A data set from the operational Time Series Station Spiekeroog located at a tidal inlet of the Wadden Sea was used to perform (i) an inter-comparison of observations related to water transparency, (ii) correlation tests among these measured parameters, and (iii) to explore the utility of both acoustic and optical tools in monitoring water transparency. An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler was used to derive the backscatter signal in the water column. Optical observations were collected using above-water hyperspectral radiometers and a submerged turbidity metre. Bio-fouling on the turbidity sensors optical windows resulted in measurement drift and abnormal values during quality control steps. We observed significant correlations between turbidity collected by the submerged metre and that derived from above-water radiometer observations. Turbidity from these sensors was also associated with the backscatter signal derived from the acoustic measurements. These findings suggest that both optical and acoustic measurements can be reasonable proxies of water transparency with the potential to mitigate gaps and increase data quality in long-time observation of marine environments.