This paper examines the applicability of airborne remote sensing to the characterization and quantification of the spatial dynamics of water surface temperature (WST) within estuaries. For this, a series of successive airborne Thematic Mapper thermal images was acquired of Kirkcudbright Bay, an estuary in the United Kingdom, on two dates. Spatial dynamics were determined by two techniques: (1) qualitatively, which involved interpreting features â��by eyeâ��; and (2) by the velocimetric technique of maximum cross correlation (MCC). Qualitatively, complex spatial dynamics were identified over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, associated with the creation and dissipation of eddies, and the convergence and divergence of fronts, all of which were superimposed on the synoptic tidal flow. MCC was effective for producing synoptic velocity fields, but the minimum cell size was constrained by image noise, limiting the ability to analyze small-scale spatial dynamics. The effectiveness of MCC was related to the ratio of spatially correlated variance to spatially independent variance, as estimated from the variogram. Suggestions for optimizing the application of airborne remote sensing to estuarine spatial dynamics are presented.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 71, (3-4), 2007, © ELSEVIER.