Phycocyanin detection from LANDSAT TM data for mapping cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Remote Sensing of Environment





First Page



Algal blooms, Cyanobacteria, Lake Erie, LANDSAT TM, Microcystis, Phycocyanin, Remote sensing, Toxic algae, Water quality

Last Page



Algorithms were developed from LANDSAT 7 ETM+ data for the July 1, 2000 overpass and LANDSAT 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) data for the September 27, 2000 overpass for Path 20 Row 31 (including Toledo, OH) to measure relative phycocyanin content (PC) and turbidity in the western basin of Lake Erie. Water samples were collected from discrete hydrographic stations arranged in a 20 x 4 km grid adjacent to the Ohio shoreline during a 6-h period spanning each of the two LANDSAT overpasses. The samples were analyzed for chlorophyll (chl) a content and turbidity. In addition, the concentration of phycocyanin, a light-harvesting pigment associated with cyanobacteria, was estimated from the ratio of phycocyanin/chl a in vivo fluorescence (IVPF/IVCF). A dark-object-subtracted, spectral ratio model derived from the July 1, 2000 data was found to be the most robust, when applied to the September 27, 2000 data. The same July 1, 2000 model (or algorithm) for PC was then applied to LANDSAT 7 ETM+ frames for July 16 and August 1, 2002 of the Path 19 Row 31 frame (including Cleveland, OH) and to the August 8, 2002 frame of Path 20 Row 31. Moderate, very low, and high PC values were detected in the western basin of Lake Erie on July 16, August, 1, and August 8, 2002, respectively. On September 17, 2002, local media reported a large Microcystis bloom in the western basin. The high PC values on August 8, 2002 may have represented early stage detection of the large Microcystis bloom that was reported 5 weeks later. The PC algorithm derived in this study will improve our understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of cyanobacterial bloom formation in Lake Erie and other systems. It may also serve to alert municipalities to the presence of potentially toxic bloom events. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.