A Landsat 8 OLI Satellite Data-Based Assessment of Spatio-Temporal Variations of Lake Sevan Phytoplankton Biomass

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Abstract

The Sevan is one of the world’s largest highland lakes and the largest drinking water reservoir to the South Caucasus. An intensive drop in the level of the lake that occurred over the last decades of the 20th century has brought to eutrophication. The 2000s were marked by an increase in the level of the lake and development of fish farming. To assess possible effect of these processes on water quality, creating a state-ofthe- art water quality monitoring system is required. Traditional approaches to monitoring aquatic systems are often time-consuming, expensive and non-continuous. Thus, remote sensing technologies are crucial in quantitatively monitoring the status of water quality due to the rapidity, cyclicity, large-scale and low-cost. The aim of this work was to evaluate potential applications of the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) to study the spatio-temporal phytoplankton biomass changes. In this study phytoplankton biomasses are used as a water quality indicator, because phytoplankton communities are sensitive to changes in their environment and directly correlated with eutrophication. We used Landsat 8 OLI (30 m spatial resolution, May, Aug, Sep 2016) images converted to the bottom of atmosphere (BOA) reflectance by performing standard preprocessing steps (radiometric and atmospheric correction, sun glint removal etc.). The nonlinear regression model was developed using Landsat 8 (May 2016) coastal blue, blue, green, red, NIR bands, their ratios (blue/red, red/green, red/blue etc.) and in situ measurements (R2=0.7, p<0.05) performed by the Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology of NAS RA in May 2016. Model was applied to the OLI images received for August and September 2016. The data obtained through the model shows that in May the quantity of phytoplankton mostly varies from 0.2 to 0.6g/m3. In August vs. May a sharp increase in the quantity of phytoplankton around 1-5 g/m3 is observable. In September, very high contents of phytoplankton are observed for almost entire surface of the lake. Preliminary collation between data generated with help of the model and in-situ measurements allows to conclude that the RS model for phytoplankton biomass estimation showed reasonable results, but further validation is necessary.

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