Monitoring Chlorophyll, Cyanobacteria and Algal Blooms in Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain chlorophyll-a concentration map on June 1, 2013, derived from Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) data.

Team Location: Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

Authors: 
Tiffani Orne (Liberty University)
Hayley Solak (Clark University)
Sam Weber (Virginia Tech)

Mentors/Advisers:
Kenton Ross, Ph.D. (NASA, DEVELOP National Science Advisor)

Abstract:

Centered between New York, Vermont, and Quebec, Lake Champlain is a critical water resource for the surrounding area. Approximately 145,000 people rely on the lake for drinking water and it is a major stopping point and breeding ground for migrating birds. Development in the Lake Champlain watershed has led to an increase in nutrients in the lake. Algae in the water thrive on the nutrient flux and reproduce exponentially, causing hazards to human and environmental health. Interested organizations, including the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) mobilize citizen volunteers to collect water samples in various parts of the lake in order to monitor water quality. However, this process requires a large number of volunteers, does not account for the quality of the entire lake, and the cost of lab-based water sample testing. Using Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Operational Land Imager (OLI) data, a series of maps were created showing the change in chlorophyll-a, cyanobacteria, phycocyanin, and total suspended sediment (TSS) over time. The methodologies were then transferred to project partners for continued use of remote sensing to monitor water quality with maps provided as a visual to influence public policy.

Return to the Summer 2013 VPS page.