Hurricane Monitoring with Buoys as Biogeochemical Observatories

Salinity (top) and turbidity (bottom) data captured leading up to, and during Hurricane Irma.

Sea-Bird Scientific, September 2017–The center of Hurricane Irma may have missed Florida’s eastern shore, but its effects did not. Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch operates a network of Sea-Bird Scientific Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatories (LOBOs) in the Indian River Lagoon that captured the edge of Irma’s wrath in real time. The peak of the storm occurred just before midnight on September 10th as the air pressure dropped to 990 mbar and wind speeds topped out over 45 mph.

In the Indian River Lagoon, Sea-Bird Water Quality Monitors (WQM) measured the increase in water level due to storm surge and increased turbidity due to winds stirring sand and sediment up from the lagoon bed. Further inland in the estuary, salinity values dropped as fresh rainwater gushed from the St. Lucie River. Interact with this data and view more of the effects of Hurricane on eastern Florida at the LOBOviz website.

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s custom data chart can sort and display LOBO data on the southwest coast. Plotting yearly rain (cumulative) with turbidity and salinity for the Fort Myers location in September reflects the large rain event, resulting in high turbidity and a subsequent drop in salinity due to Irma passing through.

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