AbstractMonitoring and modeling of the distribution of suspended particulate matter (SPM) is an important task, especially in coastal environments. Several SPM models have been developed for the North Sea. However, due to waves in shallow water and strong tidal currents in the southern part of the North Sea, this is still a challenging task. In general there is a lack of measurements to determine initial distributions of SPM in the bottom sediment and essential model parameters, e.g., appropriate exchange coefficients. In many satellite-borne ocean color images of the North Sea a plume is visible, which is caused by the scattering of light at SPM in the upper ocean layer. The intensity and length of the plume depends on the wave and current climate. It is well known that the SPM plume is especially obvious shortly after strong storm events. In this paper a quasi-3-D and a 3-D SPM transport model are presented. Utilizing the synergy of satellite-borne ocean color data with numerical models, the vertical exchange coefficients due to currents and waves are derived. This results in models that for the first time are able to reproduce the temporal and spatial evolution of the plume intensity. The SPM models consist of several modules to compute ocean dynamics, the vertical and horizontal exchange of SPM in the water column, and exchange processes with the seabed such as erosion, sedimentation, and resuspension. In the bottom layer, bioturbation via benthos and diffusion processes is taken into account.