Exploring the potential value of satellite remote sensing to monitor chlorophyll-a for U.S. lakes and reservoirs

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
By: , and 



Assessment of chlorophyll-a, an algal pigment, typically measured by field and laboratory in situ analyses, is used to estimate algal abundance and trophic status in lakes and reservoirs. In situ-based monitoring programs can be expensive, may not be spatially, and temporally comprehensive and results may not be available in the timeframe needed to make some management decisions, but can be more accurate, precise, and specific than remotely sensed measures. Satellite remotely sensed chlorophyll-a offers the potential for more geographically and temporally dense data collection to support estimates when used to augment or substitute for in situ measures. In this study, we compare available chlorophyll-a data from in situ and satellite imagery measures at the national scale and perform a cost analysis of these different monitoring approaches. The annual potential avoided costs associated with increasing the availability of remotely sensed chlorophyll-a values were estimated to range between $5.7 and $316 million depending upon the satellite program used and the timeframe considered. We also compared sociodemographic characteristics of the regions (both public and private lands) covered by both remote sensing and in situ data to check for any systematic differences across areas that have monitoring data. This analysis underscores the importance of continued support for both field-based in situ monitoring and satellite sensor programs that provide complementary information to water quality managers, given increased challenges associated with eutrophication, nuisance, and harmful algal bloom events.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Exploring the potential value of satellite remote sensing to monitor chlorophyll-a for U.S. lakes and reservoirs
Series title Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
DOI 10.1007/s10661-020-08631-5
Volume 192
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Kansas Water Science Center
Description 808, 22 p.
Country United States
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details