Monitoring water quality in a hypereutrophic reservoir using Landsat ETM+ and OLI sensors: how transferable are the water quality algorithms?

  • Eliza S. Deutsch
  • Ibrahim AlameddineEmail author
  • Mutasem El-Fadel


The launch of the Landsat 8 in February 2013 extended the life of the Landsat program to over 40 years, increasing the value of using Landsat to monitor long-term changes in the water quality of small lakes and reservoirs, particularly in poorly monitored freshwater systems. Landsat-based water quality hindcasting often incorporate several Landsat sensors in an effort to increase the temporal range of observations; yet the transferability of water quality algorithms across sensors remains poorly examined. In this study, several empirical algorithms were developed to quantify chlorophyll-a, total suspended matter (TSM), and Secchi disk depth (SDD) from surface reflectance measured by Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 8 OLI sensors. Sensor-specific multiple linear regression models were developed by correlating in situ water quality measurements collected from a semi-arid eutrophic reservoir with band ratios from Landsat ETM+ and OLI sensors, along with ancillary data (water temperature and seasonality) representing ecological patterns in algae growth. Overall, ETM+-based models outperformed (adjusted R2 chlorophyll-a = 0.70, TSM = 0.81, SDD = 0.81) their OLI counterparts (adjusted R2 chlorophyll-a = 0.50, TSM = 0.58, SDD = 0.63). Inter-sensor differences were most apparent for algorithms utilizing the Blue spectral band. The inclusion of water temperature and seasonality improved the power of TSM and SDD models.


Landsat-7 Landsat-8 OLI ETM +  Chlorophyll-a TSM SDD Type-II waters Qaraoun reservoir 


Funding information

This study was made possible through the generous support of the US Agency for International Development through the USAID-NSF PEER initiative (grant # AID-OAA-A-I1-00012) in conjunction with support from the US National Science Foundation under (NSF) (grant # CBET-1058027); the American University of Beirut University Research Board (grant # 103008), and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PGS-D Scholarship Program.

Supplementary material

10661_2018_6506_MOESM1_ESM.docx (262 kb)
ESM 1 Presents the summary statistics of measured in situ Chlorophyll-a, TSM, and SDD concentrations by sensor type. It also shows the results of examining algorithm transferability for the calibrated Landsat 7 algorithms on spectral data from the Landsat 8 sensor and vice versa. (DOCX 262 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

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