Remote Sensing of Algal Hotspots in the Chesapeake Bay

Aug. 17, 2015 – VIMS dataflow path on York River (black line), overlaid on Band 1 of Landsat 8, with land and cloud pixels removed. Image Credit: Virginia Water Resources II Team

Aug. 17, 2015 – VIMS dataflow path on York River (black line), overlaid on Band 1 of Landsat 8, with land and cloud pixels removed. Image Credit: Virginia Water Resources II Team

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

Category: Mapping Water Quality
Project Team
: Virginia Water Resources II
Team Location: Wise County Clerk of Court’s Office – Wise County, Virginia
and NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia

Authors:
Arika Egan
Zachary Tate
Jakub Blach
Jessica Jozwik
Tyler Rhodes

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program)
Bob Vangundy (University of Virginia’s College at Wise)
Dr. DeWayne Cecil (Global Science and Technology, Inc.)
Melanie Salyer (NASA DEVELOP Wise)

Abstract:
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have an increasingly negative effect on the ecosystems in which they grow. They deprive their ecosystem of oxygen, produce harmful toxins, and mechanically damage other organisms. This disrupts the natural water chemistry and causes large-scale fish mortality events. Scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and Old Dominion University (ODU) monitor HABs and their effect on the water quality; however, the Chesapeake and its estuaries are geographically too large for the groups to continuously monitor HABs. This limits the group’s ability to monitor up-to-date locations of HABs and the water quality associated with them. To remedy this, surface reflectance data from Landsat 8 obtained from the USGS Earth Explorer, Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Chlorophyll imagery collected from NOAA CoastWatch, and in-situ data from VIMS and ODU were combined and correlated to create an algorithm that produces a map of algal hotspots in the Chesapeake Bay area. Data were collected from May 2011 through October 2015. This algorithm will allow scientists at VIMS and ODU to identify the location of algal hotspots using current Landsat 8 data, as well as give them the ability to assess the timing, magnitude, duration, and frequency of HABs in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

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