Measurement of water colour using AVIRIS imagery to assess the potential for an operational monitoring capability in the Pamlico Sound Estuary, USA

Ross S. Lunetta, Joseph F. Knight, Hans W. Paerl, John J. Streicher, Benjamin L. Peierls, Tom Gallo, John G. Lyon, Thomas H. Mace, Christopher P. Buzzelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The monitoring of water colour parameters can provide an important diagnostic tool for the assessment of aquatic ecosystem condition. Remote sensing has long been used to effectively monitor chlorophyll concentrations in open ocean systems; however, operational monitoring in coastal and estuarine areas has been limited because of the inherent complexities of coastal systems, and the coarse spectral and spatial resolutions of available satellite systems. Data were collected using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Advanced Visible-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) flown at an altitude of approximately 20 000m to provide hyperspectral imagery and simulate both MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) data. AVIRIS data were atmospherically corrected using a radiative transfer modelling approach and analysed using band ratio and linear regression models. Regression analysis was performed with simultaneous field measurements data in the Neuse River Estuary (NRE) and Pamlico Sound on 15 May 2002. Chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations were optimally estimated using AVIRIS bands (9.5 nm) centred at 673.6 and 692.7 nm, resulting in a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.98. Concentrations of Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM), Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Fixed Suspended Solids (FSS) were also estimated, resulting in coefficients of determination of R2 = 0.90, 0.59 and 0.64, respectively. Ratios of AVIRIS bands centred at or near those corresponding to the MERIS and MODIS sensors indicated that relatively good satellite-based estimates could potentially be derived for water colour constituents at a spatial resolution of 300 and 500 m, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3291-3314
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partially funded and partially conducted the research described in this paper. Although this work was reviewed by the EPA and has been approved for publication, it may not necessarily reflect official Agency policy. Mention of any trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. This research was partially conducted under EPA Cooperative Agreement no. 82867701 and was partially supported by NASA’s Earth Sciences Enterprise, Applications Division.


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