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Multi- and hyperspectral remote sensing of tropical marine benthic habitats

Deepak R Mishra, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Tropical marine benthic habitats such as coral reef and associated environments are severely endangered because of the environmental degradation coupled with hurricanes, El Niño events, coastal pollution and runoff, tourism, and economic development. To monitor and protect this diverse environment it is important to not only develop baseline maps depicting their spatial distribution but also to document their changing conditions over time. ^ Remote sensing offers an important means of delineating and monitoring coral reef ecosystems. Over the last twenty years the scientific community has been investigating the use and potential of remote sensing techniques to determine the conditions of the coral reefs by analyzing their spectral characteristics from space. One of the problems in monitoring coral reefs from space is the effect of the water column on the remotely sensed signal. When light penetrates water its intensity decreases exponentially with increasing depth. This process, known as water column attenuation, exerts a profound effect on remotely sensed data collected over water bodies. ^ The approach presented in this research focuses on the development of semi-analytical models that resolves the confounding influence water column attenuation on substrate reflectance to characterize benthic habitats from high resolution remotely sensed imagery on a per-pixel basis. High spatial resolution satellite and airborne imagery were used as inputs in the models to derive water depth and water column optical properties (e.g., absorption and backscattering coefficients). These parameters were subsequently used in various bio-optical algorithms to deduce bottom albedo and then to classify the benthos, generating a detailed map of benthic habitats. ^ IKONOS and QuickBird multispectral satellite data and AISA Eagle hyperspectral airborne data were used in this research for benthic habitat mapping along the north shore of Roatan Island, Honduras. The AISA Eagle classification was consistently more accurate (84%) including finer definition of geomorphological features than the satellite sensors. IKONOS (81%) and QuickBird (81%) sensors showed similar accuracy to AISA, however, such similarity was only reached at the coarse classification levels of 5 and 6 habitats. These results confirm the potential of an effective combination of high spectral and spatial resolution sensor, for accurate benthic habitat mapping. ^

Subject Area

Physical Oceanography|Remote Sensing

Recommended Citation

Mishra, Deepak R, "Multi- and hyperspectral remote sensing of tropical marine benthic habitats" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3220389.