High-resolution satellite remote sensing of littoral vegetation of Lake Sevan (Armenia) as a basis for monitoring and assessment
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Physics-based remote sensing in littoral environments for ecological monitoring and assessment is a challenging task that depends on adequate atmospheric conditions during data acquisition, sensor capabilities and correction of signal disturbances associated with water surface and water column. Airborne hyper-spectral scanners offer higher potential than satellite sensors for wetland monitoring and assessment. However, application in remote areas is often limited by national restrictions, time and high costs compared to satellite data. In this study, we tested the potential of the commercial, high-resolution multi-spectral satellite QuickBird for monitoring littoral zones of Lake Sevan (Armenia). We present a classification procedure that uses a physics-based image processing system (MIP) and GIS tools for calculating spatial metrics. We focused on classification of littoral sediment coverage over three consecutive years (2006–2008) to document changes in vegetation structure associated with a rise in water levels. We describe a spectral unmixing algorithm for basic classification and a supervised algorithm for mapping vegetation types. Atmospheric aerosol retrieval, lake-specific parameterisation and validation of classifications were supported by underwater spectral measurements in the respective seasons. Results revealed accurate classification of submersed aquatic vegetation and sediment structures in the littoral zone, documenting spatial vegetation dynamics induced by water level fluctuations and inter-annual variations in phytoplankton blooms. The data prove the cost-effective applicability of satellite remote-sensing approaches for high-resolution mapping in space and time of lake littoral zones playing a major role in lake ecosystem functioning. Such approaches could be used for monitoring wetlands anywhere in the world.
KeywordsRemote sensing Littoral vegetation Water level fluctuations Spectral unmixing Inversion QuickBird
We thank the SEMIS team and our other Armenian partners for supporting the project activities. A special thanks goes to the EOMAP company for support in processing and parameterisation tasks. Finally, we gratefully thank the VW Foundation for financial support of this study.
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