, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 709-720
Date: 09 Sep 2005

Using Satellite Remote Sensing to Estimate the Colored Dissolved Organic Matter Absorption Coefficient in Lakes

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Given the importance of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) for the structure and function of lake ecosystems, a method that could estimate the amount of CDOM in lake waters over large geographic areas would be highly desirable. Satellite remote sensing has the potential to resolve this problem. We carried out model simulations to evaluate the suitability of different satellite sensors (Landsat, IKONOS, and the Advanced land Imager [ALI]) to map the amount of CDOM in concentration ranges that occur in boreal lakes of the Nordic countries. The results showed that the 8-bit radiometric resolution of Landsat 7 is not adequate when absorption by CDOM at 420 nm is higher than 3 m−1. On the other hand, the 16-bit radiometric resolution of ALI, a prototype of the next generation of Landsat, is suitable for mapping CDOM in a wider range of concentrations. An ALI image of southern Finland was acquired on 14, July 2002 and in situ measurements were carried out in 15 lakes (18 stations). The results showed that there is a high correlation (R 2 = 0.84) between the 565 nm/660 nm ALI band ratio and the CDOM absorption coefficient in lakes. Analysis of 245 lakes in the acquired satellite image showed a normal distribution of CDOM concentration among the lakes. However, the size distribution of lakes was highly skewed toward small lakes, resulting in the CDOM concentration per unit lake area being skewed toward high values. We showed that remote sensing enables synoptic monitoring of the CDOM concentration in a large number of lakes and thus enables scaling up to the level of large ecosystems and biomes.