Sentinel-2 for mapping the spatio-temporal development of submerged aquatic vegetation at Lake Starnberg (Germany) Mapping the spatial distribution of submerged aquatic vegetation

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Christine Fritz *
Katja Kuhwald
Thomas Schneider
Juergen Geist
Natascha Oppelt
(*) Corresponding Author:
Christine Fritz |


Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) plays an important role in freshwater lake ecosystems. Due to its sensitivity to environmental changes, several SAV species serve as bioindicators for the trophic state of freshwater lakes. Variations in water temperature, light availability and nutrient concentration affect SAV growth and species composition. To monitor the trophic state as required by the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), SAV needs to be monitored regularly. This study analyses the development of macrophyte patches at Lake Starnberg, Germany, by exploring four Sentinel-2A acquired within the main growing season in August and September 2015. Two different methods of littoral bottom coverage assessment are compared, i.e. a semi-empirical method using depth-invariant indices and a physically based, bio-optical method using WASI-2D (Water Colour Simulator). For a precise Sentinel-2 imaging by date and hour, satellite measurements were supported by lake bottom spectra delivered by in situ data based reflectance models. Both methods identified vegetated and non-vegetated patches in shallow water areas. Furthermore, tall- and meadow-growing SAV growth classes could be differentiated. Both methods revealed similar results when focusing on the identification of sediment and SAV patches (R² from 0.56 to 0.81), but not for a differentiation on SAV class growth level (R² <0.42).

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