Assessing the potential of SeaWiFS and MODIS for estimating chlorophyll concentration in turbid productive waters using red and near-infrared bands

Giorgio Dall'Olmo, Anatoly A. Gitelson, Donald C. Rundquist, Bryan Leavitt, Tadd Barrow, John C. Holz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

194 Scopus citations


Bio-optical algorithms for remote estimation of chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl) in case-1 waters exploit the upwelling radiation in the blue and green spectral regions. In turbid productive waters other constituents, that vary independently of Chl, absorb and scatter light in these spectral regions. As a consequence, the accurate estimation of Chl in turbid productive waters has so far not been feasible from satellite sensors. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which near-infrared (NIR) to red reflectance ratios could be applied to the Sea Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) and the Moderate Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) to estimate Chl in productive turbid waters. To achieve this objective, remote-sensing reflectance spectra and relevant water constituents were collected in 251 stations over lakes and reservoirs with a wide variability in optical parameters (i.e. 4 ≤ Chl ≤ 240 mg m - 3; 18 ≤ Secchi disk depth ≤ 308 cm). SeaWiFS and MODIS NIR and red reflectances were simulated by using the in-situ hyperspectral data. The proposed algorithms predicted Chl with a relative random uncertainty of approximately 28% (average bias between - 1% and - 4%). The effects of reflectance uncertainties on the predicted Chl were also analyzed. It was found that, for realistic ranges of Rrs uncertainties, Chl could be estimated with a precision better than 40% and an accuracy better than ± 35%. These findings imply that, provided that an atmospheric correction scheme specific for the red-NIR spectral region is available, the extensive database of SeaWiFS and MODIS images could be used to quantitatively monitor Chl in turbid productive waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 30 2005



  • Chlorophyll
  • Near-infrared
  • Red
  • SeaWiFS
  • Turbid productive waters
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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