, Volume 574, Issue 1, pp 141–148 | Cite as

Predicting Secchi disk depth from average beam attenuation in a deep, ultra-clear lake

  • Gary L. Larson
  • Robert L. HoffmanEmail author
  • Bruce R. Hargreaves
  • Robert W. Collier
Crater Lake, Oregon


We addressed potential sources of error in estimating the water clarity of mountain lakes by investigating the use of beam transmissometer measurements to estimate Secchi disk depth. The optical properties Secchi disk depth (SD) and beam transmissometer attenuation (BA) were measured in Crater Lake (Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA) at a designated sampling station near the maximum depth of the lake. A standard 20 cm black and white disk was used to measure SD. The transmissometer light source had a nearly monochromatic wavelength of 660 nm and a path length of 25 cm. We created a SD prediction model by regression of the inverse SD of 13 measurements recorded on days when environmental conditions were acceptable for disk deployment with BA averaged over the same depth range as the measured SD. The relationship between inverse SD and averaged BA was significant and the average 95% confidence interval for predicted SD relative to the measured SD was ±1.6 m (range = −4.6 to 5.5 m) or ±5.0%. Eleven additional sample dates tested the accuracy of the predictive model. The average 95% confidence interval for these sample dates was ±0.7 m (range = −3.5 to 3.8 m) or ±2.2%. The 1996–2000 time-series means for measured and predicted SD varied by 0.1 m, and the medians varied by 0.5 m. The time-series mean annual measured and predicted SD’s also varied little, with intra-annual differences between measured and predicted mean annual SD ranging from −2.1 to 0.1 m. The results demonstrated that this prediction model reliably estimated Secchi disk depths and can be used to significantly expand optical observations in an environment where the conditions for standardized SD deployments are limited.


Secchi disk depth Beam attenuation Transmissometer Lakes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary L. Larson
    • 1
  • Robert L. Hoffman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruce R. Hargreaves
    • 2
  • Robert W. Collier
    • 3
  1. 1.USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science CenterCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.College of Oceanic and Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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