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Evaluation of a three-band model for estimating chlorophyll-a concentration in tidal reaches of the Pearl River Estuary, China

Chen, Shuisen, Fang, Ligang, Li, Hongli, Chen, Weiqi, Huang, Wenrui
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2011 v.66 no.3 pp. 356-364
absorption, algorithms, brackish water, chlorophyll, color, dissolved organic matter, estuaries, linear models, phytoplankton, reflectance, regression analysis, remote sensing, rivers, satellites, surface water, tides, total suspended solids, turbidity, wavelengths, China
Accurate assessment of phytoplankton chlorophyll-a (Chla) concentration in turbid waters by means of remote sensing was challenging due to the optical complexity of turbid waters. Recently, a conceptual model containing reflectance in three spectral bands in the red and near-infrared range of the spectrum was suggested for retrieving Chla concentrations in turbid productive waters. The objective of this paper was to evaluate the performance of this three-band model to estimate Chla concentration in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), China. Reflectance spectra of surface water and water samples were collected concurrently. The samples contained variable Chla (4.80–92.60 mg/m³) and total suspended solids (0.4–55.2 mg/L dry wt). Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) absorption at 400 nm was 0.40–1.41 m⁻¹; turbidity ranged from 4 to 25 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units). The three-band model was spectrally calibrated by iterative and least-square linear regression methods to select the optimal spectral bands for the most accurate Chla estimation. Strong linear relationships (R²=0.81, RMSE=1.4 mg/m³, N=32) were established between measured Chla and the levels obtained from the calibrated three-band model [R⁻¹(684)–R⁻¹(690)]×R(718), where R(λ) was the reflectance at wavelength λ. The calibrated three-band model was independently validated (R²=0.9521, RMSE=6.44 mg/m³, N=16) and applied to retrieve Chla concentrations from the calibrated EO-1 Hyperion reflectance data in the PRE on December 21, 2006. The EO-1 Hyperion-derived Chla concentrations were further validated using synchronous in situ data collected on the same day (R²=0.64, RMSE=2 mg/m³, N=9). The spatial tendency of Chla distribution mapping by Hyperion showed gradually increased concentrations of Chla farther from the river mouths (although decreasing from east to west), which were disturbed by the combination of river outlets and tidal current in Lingding Bay of the PRE. This observation conformed to previous observations and studies, and could reasonably be explained by geographical changes. Also, results indicated that the slope of the three-band regression line decreased as the Chla concentration increased, resulting in the first sensitive band of the three-band model to move towards short wavelengths. These findings validated the rationale behind the conceptual model and demonstrated the robustness of this algorithm for Chla retrieval from in situ data and the Hyperion satellite sensor in turbid estuarine waters of the PRE, China.