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Research Letters in Ecology
Volume 2008, Article ID 146217, 4 pages
Research Letter

Chlorophyll Detection and Mapping of Shallow Water Impoundments Using Image Spectrometry

1Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute, New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, 1 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071, USA
2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, 249 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102, USA
3Department of Physics, Harvard University, 9 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
4Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 249 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102, USA

Received 25 June 2008; Accepted 1 December 2008

Academic Editor: Patricia Mosto

Copyright © 2008 Francisco Artigas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There exists a common perception that chlorophyll a concentrations in tidal coastal waters are unsuitable to be captured by remote sensing techniques because of high water turbidity. In this study, we use band index measurements to separate active chlorophyll pigments from other constituents in the water. Published single- and multiband spectral indices are used to establish a relationship between algal chlorophyll concentration and reflectance data. We find an index which is suitable to map chlorophyll gradients in the impoundments, ditches, and associated waterways of the Hackensack Meadowlands (NJ, USA). The resulting images clearly depict the spatial distribution of plant pigments and their relationship with the biological conditions of the waters in the estuary. Since these biological conditions are often determined by land usage, the methods in this paper provide a simple tool to address water quality management issues in fragmented urban estuaries.