Application of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Techniques to Evaluate Water Quality in Turbid Coastal Waters of South Carolina.

Thursday, 18 December 2014
K. Adem Ali and Kimberly Ryan, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, United States
Coastal and inland waters represent a diverse set of resources that support natural habitat and provide valuable ecosystem services to the human population. Conventional techniques to monitor water quality using in situ sensors and laboratory analysis of water samples can be very time- and cost-intensive. Alternatively, remote sensing techniques offer better spatial coverage and temporal resolution to accurately characterize the dynamic and unique water quality parameters. Existing remote sensing ocean color products, such as the water quality proxy chlorophyll-a, are based on ocean derived bio-optical models that are primarily calibrated in Case 1 type waters. These traditional models fail to work when applied in turbid (Case 2 type), coastal waters due to spectral interference from other associated color producing agents such as colored dissolved organic matter and suspended sediments. In this work, we introduce a novel technique for the predictive modeling of chlorophyll-a using a multivariate-based approach applied to in situ hyperspectral radiometric data collected from the coastal waters of Long Bay, South Carolina. This method uses a partial least-squares regression model to identify prominent wavelengths that are more sensitive to chlorophyll-a relative to other associated color-producing agents. The new model was able to explain 80% of the observed chlorophyll-a variability in Long Bay with RMSE = 2.03 µg/L. This approach capitalizes on the spectral advantage gained from current and future hyperspectral sensors, thus providing a more robust predicting model. This enhanced mode of water quality monitoring in marine environments will provide insight to point-sources and problem areas that may contribute to a decline in water quality. The utility of this tool is in its versatility to a diverse set of coastal waters and its use by coastal and fisheries managers with regard to recreation, regulation, economic and public health purposes.