Evaluation of remote sensing techniques for monitoring giant kelp populations
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Photographs and maps of the floating canopy of the giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, provide an important data source to monitor nearshore water quality in southern California. Declines in water quality related to turbidity from coastal development, ocean discharges, and non-point source runoff have caused reductions in the areal extent of these kelp beds. Historically the kelp beds have been monitored by a variety of methods including small format infrared and color photography. New digital remote sensing instruments combined with geographical information system (GIS) databases offer an efficient method for collecting and analyzing data on changes in kelp bed size and location. SPOT satellite imagery has been found to provide adequate resolution for mapping the larger beds of giant kelp along the California coast. Beds smaller than 10 ha are not resolved well with SPOT imagery and need to be mapped with a resolution greater than the 20 m pixel size provided by the SPOT multispectral imagery. Imagery from a prototype of the Positive Systems ADAR system, an airplane mounted multispectral video sensor, provided a spatial resolution of 2.3 m in 4 spectral bands. ADAR imagery taken on 2 October 1991 of the San Onofre Kelp Bed in northern San Diego County showed 39% more kelp than small format color infrared photography made during the same time period.
Key wordsMacrocystis kelp California remote sensing SPOT satellite multispectral video
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