Automated global shallowwater bathymetry mapping using google earth engine

Jiwei Li, David E. Knapp, Mitchell Lyons, Chris Roelfsema, Stuart Phinn, Steven R. Schill, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Global shallow water bathymetry maps offer critical information to inform activities such as scientific research, environment protection, and marine transportation. Methods that employ satellite-based bathymetric modeling provide an alternative to conventional shipborne measurements, offering high spatial resolution combined with extensive coverage. We developed an automated bathymetry mapping approach based on the Sentinel-2 surface reflectance dataset in Google Earth Engine. We created a new method for generating a clean-water mosaic and a tailored automatic bathymetric estimation algorithm. We then evaluated the performance of the models at six globally diverse sites (Heron Island, Australia; West Coast of Hawai’i Island, Hawai’i; Saona Island, Dominican Republic; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands; and The Grenadines) using 113,520 field bathymetry sampling points. Our approach derived accurate bathymetry maps in shallow waters, with Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) values ranging from 1.2 to 1.9 m. This automatic, efficient, and robust method was applied to map shallow water bathymetry at the global scale, especially in areas which have high biodiversity (i.e., coral reefs).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1469
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021


  • Allen coral atlas
  • Bathymetry
  • Benthic
  • Coastal region
  • Coral reef
  • Google earth engine
  • Seagrass
  • Sentinel-2
  • Shallow water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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