Monitoring of regional lake water clarity using Landsat imagery

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The application of remote sensing technology to water quality monitoring has special significance for lake management at regional scale. Water clarity expressed in terms of Secchi disk transparency (SDT) is a highly useful indicator of trophic status and ecosystem health. In this study, we related Landsat TM and ETM+ data with ground observations to develop a model for the estimation of SDT which can be used as a standardized procedure for regional-scale lake clarity assessment in the central region of Argentina. Samples were taken from two reservoirs of the region. Pearson correlation coefficients and step-wise multiple regression analysis were used to evaluate correlation between Landsat bands and measured SDT. Results suggested that Landsat band 3 plus the ratio 1/3 was a consistent and reliable predictor of SDT (R2 = 0.80). The algorithm was validated (R2 = 0.81) and applied to the November 10, 2010 ETM+ image obtaining a map that characterized water clarity of reservoirs within the study area. The procedure presented here could become a low cost measurement tool for water management authorities and decision-makers, obtaining simpler and practical results for regional water clarity monitoring.

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