Tropical Storm Lee made landfall over New Orleans on Sept. 2-3, 2011, with predicted rainfall of 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 centimeters) over southern Louisiana. This coincided with a surge in discharge from the Mississippi River around that time (bottom chart). NASA's Aquarius instrument on the Aquarius/SAC-D spacecraft detected a corresponding low-salinty feature, as seen in the Aquarius weekly composite image (Aug 28 -- Sept 3) in the top diagram (the low-salinity feature is the blue color region between the Mississippi River delta and the Florida panhandle). This preliminary finding is likely the result of both the increased river discharge and heavy rainfall from the storm directly on the sea surface. The low-salinity feature is gone by late October, as seen in the middle image. Further analyses will be done to verify this finding.
Aquarius was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. JPL managed Aquarius through its commissioning phase and will archive mission data. Goddard manages Aquarius mission operations and processes science data. CONAE provided the SAC-D spacecraft, an optical camera, a thermal camera with Canada, a microwave radiometer, other sensors and the mission operations center. France and Italy also contributed instruments.