Monitoring of water clarity trends is necessary for water resource managers. Remote sensing based methods are well suited for monitoring clarity in water bodies such as the inland lakes in Minnesota, United States. This study evaluated the potential of using imagery from NASA's MODIS sensor to study intra-annual variations in lake clarity. MODIS reflectance images from six dates throughout the 2006 growing season were used with field collected Secchi disk transparency data to estimate water clarity in large lakes throughout Minnesota. The results of this research indicate the following: water clarity estimates derived from MODIS imagery are largely similar to those derived from lower temporal resolution sensors such as Landsat, robust water clarity estimates can be derived using MODIS for many dates throughout a growing season (R2 values between 0.32 and 0.71), and the relatively low spatial resolution of MODIS restricts its applicability to a subset of the largest inland lakes (>160 ha, or 400 acres). This study suggests that water clarity maps developed with MODIS imagery and bathymetry data may be useful tools for resource managers concerned with intra- and inter-annual variations in large inland lakes.
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library