The Congo River plume is unique in that the low salinity river water form a very shallow layer that extend well beyond the river mouth. The end result is the creation of a very strong current shear at the interface that can be problematic for operations in the area such as the loading of tankers.
A good understanding of the spread of the plume and its variability allows a better planning of all operations and can be included in the determination of suitable metocean windows.
Figure 1: Congo plume CDOM signature
CLS acquires daily EO Ocean color images which contain chlorophyll, total suspended matter and concentration of dissolved organic matter. These data are then processed using an algorithm to determine a threshold value differentiating plume waters and open ocean waters, thus resulting in daily maps of the plume extent.
These maps can be then be averaged over a month to get monthly maps of the plume extent. This can be done for successive years and hence create a monthly climatology of the plume extent, which can be used in ocean models.