Optical Properties

In many aquatic environments in the United States diminished water quality has resulted in a reduction in the amount of light penetrating the water. This reduction has caused large-scale die off of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), an important part of the ecosystem. Scientists at SERC are studying the role of solar radiation in aquatic environments and the effects of water quality on the light available to the organisms that live there. Researcher Charles Gallegos has been examining how various components such as phytoplankton, particulate matter, and dissolved compounds diminish light from the sun as it travels through the water column. He is also investigating the factors that govern the interaction between these elements and light penetration and distribution. Through his work in the Chesapeake Bay Gallegos has developed a diagnostic tool that allows managers to establish water quality targets for meeting SAV growth criteria and to evaluate water quality against those criteria.

Understanding the factors that govern light penetration as it relates to water quality is providing managers with tools to improve water quality and restore the health of aquatic ecosystems.

Coastal Intensive Site Network

Developing an intensive coastal site network of monitoring and research stations throughout the United States



Estuaries and Great Lakes Coastal Initiative

Developing an optical indicator of habitat suitability for submersed aquatic vegetation


Hyrologic Optics

Studying water quality through hyrdologic optics