This article overviews recent advances in studies of landscape-water quality relationships using remote sensing techniques. With the increasing feasibility of using remotely-sensed data, landscape-water quality studies can now be more easily performed on regional, multi-state scales. The traditional method of relating land use and land cover to water quality has been extended to include landscape pattern and other landscape information derived from satellite data. Three items are focused on in this article: 1) the increasing recognition of the importance of larger-scale studies of regional water quality that require a landscape perspective; 2) the increasing importance of remotely sensed data, such as the imagery-derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and vegetation phenological metrics derived from time-series NDVI data; and 3) landscape pattern. In some studies, using landscape pattern metrics explained some of the variation in water quality not explained by land use/cover. However, in some other studies, the NDVI metrics were even more highly correlated to certain water quality parameters than either landscape pattern metrics or land use/cover proportions. Although studies relating landscape pattern metrics to water quality have had mixed results, this recent body of work applying these landscape measures and satellite-derived metrics to water quality analysis has demonstrated their potential usefulness in monitoring watershed conditions across large regions.
Additional publication details
Geographic techniques and recent applications of remote sensing to landscape-water quality studies