Lakes without Landsat? An alternative approach to remote lake monitoring with MODIS 250 m imagery

Lake and Reservoir Management
By: , and 



We evaluated use of MODIS 250 m imagery for remote lake monitoring in Maine. Despite limited spectral resolution (visible red and near infrared bands), the twice daily image capture has a potential advantage over conventionally used, often cloudy Landsat imagery (16 day interval) when short time windows are of interest. We analyzed 364 eligible (≥100 ha) Maine lakes during late summer (Aug–early Sep) 2000–2011. The red band was strongly correlated with natural log-transformed Secchi depth (SD), and the addition of ancillary lake and watershed variables explained some variability in ln(SD) (R2= 0.68–0.85; 9 models). Weak spectral resolution and variable lake conditions limited accurate lake monitoring to relatively productive periods in late summer, as indicated by inconsistent, sometimes weak regressions during June and July when lakes were clearer and less stable (R2 = 0.19–0.74; 8 models). Additionally, SD estimates derived from 2 sets of concurrent MODIS and Landsat imagery generally did not agree unless Landsat imagery (30 m) was resampled to 250 m, likely owing to various factors related to scale. Average MODIS estimates exceeded those of Landsat by 0.35 and 0.49 m on the 2 dates. Overall, MODIS 250 m imagery are potentially useful for remote lake monitoring during productive periods when Landsat data are unavailable; however, analyses must occur when algal communities are stable and well-developed, are biased toward large lakes, may overestimate SD, and accuracy may be unreliable without non-spectral lake predictors.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Lakes without Landsat? An alternative approach to remote lake monitoring with MODIS 250 m imagery
Series title Lake and Reservoir Management
DOI 10.1080/10402381.2013.778926
Volume 29
Issue 2
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 10 p.
First page 89
Last page 98
Country United States
State Maine
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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