Remote estimation of chlorophyll concentration in hyper-eutrophic aquatic systems: Model tuning and accuracy optimization

Paul V. Zimba, Anatoly Gitelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Accurate assessment of phytoplankton chlorophyll a (chl a) concentration by remote sensing is challenging in turbid hyper-eutrophic waters. This paper assessed methods to resolve this problem. A hand-held spectroradiometer was used to measure subsurface spectral reflectance (R) in the visible and near infrared range of the spectrum. Water samples were collected concurrently and contained variable chlorophyll a concentration (chl a from 107 to more than 3000 mg/m3) and turbidity (from 11 to 423 NTU) levels. The conceptual three-band model [R- 11) - R- 12)] × R(λ3) and its special case, the two-band model R(λ3)/R(λ1), were spectrally tuned in accord with optical properties of the media to optimize spectral bands (λ1, λ2 and λ3) for accurate chlorophyll a estimation. Strong linear relationships were established between analytically measured chl a and both the three-band [R- 1(650) - R- 1(710)] × R(740) and the reflectance ratio model R(714)/R(650). The three-band model accounted for 7% more variation of chl a concentration than the ratio model (78 vs. 71%). Assessment of the model accuracy in dense algal blooms is hampered by the spatial and temporal inhomogeneity of algal distributions-in these waters, non-random algal distributions accounted for more than 20% spatial and up to 8% temporal variation in chlorophyll a concentration. The findings underlined the rationale behind the conceptual model and demonstrated the robustness of the algorithm for chl a retrieval in very turbid, hyper-eutrophic waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 15 2006


  • Aquaculture
  • Channel catfish
  • Chlorophyll
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Remote sensing
  • Turbidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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