Operational MERIS-based NIR-red algorithms for estimating chlorophyll-a concentrations in coastal waters - The Azov Sea case study

Wesley J. Moses, Anatoly A. Gitelson, Sergey Berdnikov, Vladislav Saprygin, Vasily Povazhnyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations


We present here results that strongly support the use of MERIS-based NIR-red algorithms as standard tools for estimating chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentration in turbid productive waters. The study was carried out as one of the steps in testing the potential of the universal applicability of previously developed NIR-red algorithms, which were earlier calibrated using a limited set of MERIS imagery and in situ data from the Azov Sea and the Taganrog Bay, Russia, and data that were synthetically generated using a radiative transfer model. We used an extensive set of MERIS imagery and in situ data collected over a period of three years in the Azov Sea and the Taganrog Bay for this validation task. We found that the two-band and three-band NIR-red algorithms gave consistently highly accurate estimates of chl-a concentration, with a mean absolute error of 4.32mgm -3 and 4.71mgm -3, respectively, and a root mean square error as low as 5.92mgm -3, for data with chl-a concentrations ranging from 1.09mgm -3 to 107.82mgm -3. This obviates the need for case-specific reparameterization of the algorithms, as long as the specific absorption coefficient of phytoplankton in the water does not change drastically, and presents a strong case for the use of NIR-red algorithms as standard algorithms that can be routinely applied for near-real-time quantitative monitoring of chl-a concentration in the Azov Sea and the Taganrog Bay, and potentially elsewhere, which will be a real boon to ecologists, natural resource managers and environmental decision-makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2012



  • Chlorophyll-a
  • NIR-red
  • Operational algorithms
  • Remote sensing
  • Turbid productive waters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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