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Retrieval of Chlorophyll-a concentration and associated product uncertainty in optically diverse lakes and reservoirs
Remote Sensing of Environment  (IF10.164),  Pub Date : 2021-10-02, DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2021.112710
Xiaohan Liu, Christopher Steele, Stefan Simis, Mark Warren, Andrew Tyler, Evangelos Spyrakos, Nick Selmes, Peter Hunter

Satellite product uncertainty estimates are critical for the further development and evaluation of remote sensing algorithms, as well as for the user community (e.g., modelers, climate scientists, and decision-makers). Optical remote sensing of water quality is affected by significant uncertainties stemming from correction for atmospheric effects as well as a lack of algorithms that can be universally applied to waterbodies spanning several orders of magnitude in non-covarying substance concentrations. We developed a method to produce estimates of Chlorophyll-a (Chla) satellite product uncertainty on a pixel-by-pixel basis within an Optical Water Type (OWT) classification scheme. This scheme helps to dynamically select the most appropriate algorithms for each satellite pixel, whereas the associated uncertainty informs downstream use of the data (e.g., for trend detection or modeling) as well as the future direction of algorithm research. Observations of Chla were related to 13 previously established OWT classes based on their corresponding water-leaving reflectance (Rw), each class corresponding to specific bio-optical characteristics. Uncertainty models corresponding to specific algorithm - OWT combinations for Chla were then expressed as a function of OWT class membership score. Embedding these uncertainty models into a fuzzy OWT classification approach for satellite imagery allows Chla and associated product uncertainty to be estimated without a priori knowledge of the biogeochemical characteristics of a water body. Following blending of Chla algorithm results according to per-pixel fuzzy OWT membership, Chla retrieval shows a generally robust response over a wide range of class memberships, indicating a wide application range (ranging from 0.01 to 362.5 mg/m3). Low OWT membership scores and high product uncertainty identify conditions where optical water types need further exploration, and where biogeochemical satellite retrieval algorithms require further improvement. The procedure is demonstrated here for the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) but could be repeated for other sensors, atmospheric correction methods and optical water quality variables.