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Remote sensing for mapping algal blooms in freshwater lakes: a review


A large number of freshwater lakes around the world show recurring harmful algal blooms, particularly cyanobacterial blooms, that affect public health and ecosystem integrity. Prediction, early detection, and monitoring of algal blooms are inevitable for the mitigation and management of their negative impacts on the environment and human beings. Remote sensing provides an effective tool for detecting and spatiotemporal monitoring of these events. Various remote sensing platforms, such as ground-based, spaceborne, airborne, and UAV-based, have been used for mounting sensors for data acquisition and real-time monitoring of algal blooms in a cost-effective manner. This paper presents an updated review of various remote sensing platforms, data types, and algorithms for detecting and monitoring algal blooms in freshwater lakes. Recent studies on remote sensing using sophisticated sensors mounted on UAV platforms have revolutionized the detection and monitoring of water quality. Image processing algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been improved recently and predicting algal blooms based on such methods will have a key role in mitigating the negative impacts of eutrophication in the future.

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All data used in this study are available from public domain resources.


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This study was supported by Companhia Riograndense de Saneamento – CORSAN, Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the Institute of Geosciences, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul -UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

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BKV designed the study. BKV, SBAR, AV, ABK, and CG contributed equally to the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Bijeesh Kozhikkodan Veettil.

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Rolim, S.B.A., Veettil, B.K., Vieiro, A.P. et al. Remote sensing for mapping algal blooms in freshwater lakes: a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 19602–19616 (2023).

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  • Algal blooms
  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Remote sensing
  • Phytoplankton
  • Spatiotemporal bloom mapping