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Optics Express


Optical water classification based on remote sensing reflectance (Rrs(.)) data can provide insight into water components driving optical variability and inform the development and application of bio-optical algorithms in complex aquatic systems. In this study, we use an in situ dataset consisting of hyperspectral Rrs(.) and other biogeochemical and optical parameters collected over nearly five years across a heavily urbanized estuary, the Long Island Sound (LIS), east of New York City, USA, to optically classify LIS waters based on Rrs(.) spectral shape. We investigate the similarities and differences of discrete groupings (k-means clustering) and continuous spectral indexing using the Apparent Visible Wavelength (AVW) in relation to system biogeochemistry and water properties. Our Rrs(.) dataset in LIS was best described by three spectral clusters, the first two accounting for the majority (89%) of Rrs(.) observations and primarily driven by phytoplankton dynamics, with the third confined to measurements in river and river plume waters. We found AVW effective at tracking subtle changes in Rrs(.) spectral shape and fine-scale water quality features along river-to-ocean gradients. The recently developed Quality Water Index Polynomial (QWIP) was applied to evaluate three different atmospheric correction approaches for satellite-derived Rrs(.) from the Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) sensor in LIS, finding Polymer to be the preferred approach. Our results suggest that integrative, continuous indices such as AVW can be effective indicators to assess nearshore biogeochemical variability and evaluate the quality of both in situ and satellite bio-optical datasets, as needed for improved ecosystem and water resource management in LIS and similar regions.


Funding: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NSSC17K0258, 80NSSC20K1287); U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (LI96261317-0, R/CMC-17 NYCT).




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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.





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