Prepare for the Future! Measuring Lakes from Space

EarthzineDEVELOP 2015 Fall VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Mapping Water Quality, Original

Landsat image with classified water as seen in the VPS video, ‰ÛÏPrepare for the Future! Measuring Lakes from Space.‰Û Image Credit: Lake Tahoe Water Resources Team

Landsat image with classified water as seen in the VPS video, ‰ÛÏPrepare for the Future! Measuring Lakes from Space.‰Û Image Credit: Lake Tahoe Water Resources Team

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

Category:åÊMonitoring Change for Resource Management

Project Team: Lake Tahoe Water Resources

Team Location: NASA Ames Research Center ‰ÛÒ Mountain View, California

Authors:

Nolan Cate

Anton Surunis

Chelsea Ackroyd

Mentors/Advisors:

Dr. Brian Coltin (NASA Ames Research Center)

Dr. Juan Torres-PÌ©rez (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute)

Abstract:

As global climate change continues to escalate and droughts become more frequent and severe, it becomes increasingly necessary to monitor and regulate available water resources. Lake Tahoe (California/Nevada) is an important reservoir for tourism, local ecosystems, and drinking water. Its nearly 5 million annual visitors contribute at least $300 million to the local economy, making it one of California‰Ûªs most popular attractions. Decreasing water levels are a concern for residents, the economy, and a number of endangered species that live on Lake Tahoe‰Ûªs shores, such as the yellow cress. Current methods of monitoring lake levels, however, rely on depth gauges that require time-intensive fieldwork to retrieve data and are limited in their spatial coverage. Satellite imagery provides a far greater spatial extent while still providing regular measurements. Utilizing satellite imagery from the Landsat program, the Lake Level Automated Monitoring Algorithm (LLAMA) is a continuous detection lake level monitoring algorithm that uses a Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI), thermal band analysis, and visible band reflectance values processed through Google‰Ûªs cloud-based geospatial program Earth Engine. In addition to a lake area measurement, LLAMA is able to show measurements of turbidity and algae levels over any given lake worldwide. Thus, LLAMA has the ability to provide water managers near real-time data regarding the turbidity, algae, and water levels for any lake or reservoir of sufficient size via Google Earth Engine.

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