Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Brady Cooper


Nutrient pollution is a growing issue around the world. The excess nutrients going into aquatic ecosystems allows phytoplankton to thrive and form algal blooms. Algal blooms can be hazardous to humans, wildlife, and destroy aquatic ecosystems. They also are costly to monitor and control. This study uses remote sensing to observe the spectral differences in lakes, specifically one that experienced an algal bloom, Lake St. Clair. It was also compared to a lake with exceptional water quality, Lake Tahoe. The objective was to see how the two differed spectrally and determine if remote sensing is a viable option for monitoring algal blooms. Data was gathered via the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite. The images were analyzed, stacked, and pixels were chosen. The data from these pixels were exported to make graphs and visually represent the findings. The green band reflectance had significant results, showing higher values in the algal bloom compared to outside the bloom and in lake Tahoe. The APPEL index was also utilized, and it showed a significant increase during the time of the bloom as well. Remote sensing was found to be a viable option for monitoring algal blooms, despite some limitations.