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Remote sensing of selected water-quality indicators with the hyperspectral imager for the coastal ocean (HICO) sensor

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The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) offers the coastal environmental monitoring community an unprecedented opportunity to observe changes in coastal and estuarine water quality across a range of spatial scales not feasible with traditional field-based monitoring or existing ocean colour satellites. HICO, an Office of Naval Research-sponsored programme, is the first space-based maritime hyperspectral imaging instrument designed specifically for the coastal ocean. HICO has been operating since September 2009 from the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility on the International Space Station (ISS). The high pixel resolution (approximately 95 m at nadir) and hyperspectral imaging capability offer a unique opportunity for characterizing a wide range of water colour constituents that could be used to assess environmental condition. In this study, we transform atmospherically corrected ISS/HICO hyperspectral imagery and derive environmental response variables routinely used for evaluating the environmental condition of coastal ecosystem resources. Using atmospherically corrected HICO imagery and a comprehensive field validation programme, three regionally specific algorithms were developed to estimate basic water-quality properties traditionally measured by monitoring agencies. Results indicated that a three-band chlorophyll a algorithm performed best (R 2 = 0.62) when compared with in situ measurement data collected 2–4 hours of HICO acquisitions. Coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) (R 2 = 0.93) and turbidity (R 2 = 0.67) were also highly correlated. The distributions of these water-quality indicators were mapped for four estuaries along the northwest coast of Florida from April 2010 to May 2012. However, before the HICO sensor can be transitioned from proof-of-concept to operational status and its data applied to benefit decisions made by coastal managers, problems with vicarious calibration of the sensor need to be resolved and standardized protocols are required for atmospheric correction. Ideally, the sensor should be placed on a polar orbiting platform for greater spatial and temporal coverage as well as for image synchronization with field validation efforts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: US EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division, Narragansett, Rhode Island, 02882, USA 2: US EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, Florida, 32561, USA 3: US EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27709, USA 4: Bio-Optical Physical Processes and Remote Sensing Section, Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, 39529, USA

Publication date: May 3, 2014

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