Lake Victoria’s Water Quality: Past, Present, and Future

A wetness index highlighting areas with high chlorophyll activity in the focus study area. Image Credit: Lake Victoria Water Resources Team

A wetness index highlighting areas with high chlorophyll activity in the focus study area. Image Credit: Lake Victoria Water Resources Team

This is a part of the 2015 Fall VPS. For more VPS articles, click here

Category: Mapping Water Quality
Project Team:
 Lake Victoria Water Resources
Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center – Huntsville, Alabama

Authors:
Jeanné le Roux
Daryl Ann Winstead
Austin Vacek
Christina Fischer
Sara Amirazodi

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA at National Space Science and Technology Center)
Dr. Robert Griffin (University of Alabama Huntsville)

Abstract:
Lake Victoria, with a surface area of 68,800 square kilometers, is the largest lake in Africa. The lake is surrounded by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and is home to more than 30 million people, making it one of the most densely populated rural areas in the world. These people rely on the lake for all aspects of their lives, including fishing, agriculture, and industrial applications. However, the increasing population has negatively impacted water quality through agricultural and industrial runoff and sewage. Furthermore, the invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is blocking fishing access and providing breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes and snails. Ongoing efforts between SERVIR Africa and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) have been assessing and monitoring water quality parameters such as chlorophyll concentration, temperature, and turbidity for Lake Victoria using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) sensor on the Aqua satellite. This project sought to include the use of Landsat 5, 7, and 8 and Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) to assess surface reflectance, chlorophyll-a, and water hyacinth presence. The study focused on the Winam Gulf region of Lake Victoria in Kenya, since this area experiences abundant water hyacinth activity and has been identified by RCMRD as an area of focus. The data collected was used to create a preliminary algorithm to detect water hyacinth. This algorithm was then applied on imagery ranging from August 2000 to October 2015 to provide a historical context of the range of water Hyacinth in the Winam Gulf.

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