Assessing the Application of SeaWiFS Ocean Color Algorithms to Lake Erie

Publication Title

Journal of Great Lakes Research

Publication Date


Document Type





remote sensing, ocean color, chlorophyll a, satellite observation, Lake Erie


Biology | Fresh Water Studies


The feasibility of satellite-based monitoring of phytoplankton chlorophyll a concentrations in Lake Erie is assessed by applying globally calibrated, ocean-derived color algorithms to spatially and temporally collocated measurements of SeaWiFS remote sensing reflectance. Satellite-based chlorophyll a retrievals were compared with fluorescence-based measurements of chlorophyll a from 68 field samples collected across the lake between 1998 and 2002. Twelve ocean-derived color algorithms, one regional algorithm derived for the Baltic Sea's Case 2 waters, and a set of regional algorithms developed for the western, central and eastern basins of Lake Erie were considered. While none of the ocean-derived algorithms performed adequately, the outlook for the success of regionally calibrated and validated algorithms, with forms similar to the ocean-derived algorithms, is promising over the eastern basin and possibly the central basin of the lake. In the western basin, each of the regional algorithms considered performed poorly, indicating that alternative approaches to algorithm development, or to satellite data screening and analysis procedures will be needed.