Earth observation for monitoring and mapping of cyanobacteria blooms. Case studies on five Italian lakes

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Mariano Bresciani *
Claudia Giardino
Rosaria Lauceri
Erica Matta
Ilaria Cazzaniga
Monica Pinardi
Andrea Lami
Martina Austoni
Emanuela Viaggiu
Roberta Congestri
Giuseppe Morabito
(*) Corresponding Author:
Mariano Bresciani |


Cyanobacterial blooms occur in many parts of the world as a result of entirely natural causes or human activity. Due to their negative effects on water resources, efforts are made to monitor cyanobacteria dynamics. This study discusses the contribution of remote sensing methods for mapping cyanobacterial blooms in lakes in northern Italy. Semi-empirical approaches were used to flag scum and cyanobacteria and spectral inversion of bio-optical models was adopted to retrieve chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations. Landsat-8 OLI data provided us both the spatial distribution of Chl-a concentrations in a small eutrophic lake and the patchy distribution of scum in Lake Como. ENVISAT MERIS time series collected from 2003 to 2011 enabled the identification of dates when cyanobacterial blooms affected water quality in three small meso-eutrophic lakes in the same region. On average, algal blooms occurred in the three lakes for about 5 days a year, typically in late summer and early autumn. A suite of hyperspectral sensors on air- and space-borne platforms was used to map Chl-a concentrations in the productive waters of the Mantua lakes, finding values in the range of 20 to 100 mgm-3. The present findings were obtained by applying state of the art of methods applied to remote sensing data. Further research will focus on improving the accuracy of cyanobacteria mapping and adapting the algorithms to the new-generation of satellite sensors.

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