Remote sensing estimation of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in optically shallow waters

Jiwei Li, Qian Yu, Yong Q. Tian, Brian L. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


It is not well understood how bottom reflectance of optically shallow waters affects the algorithm performance of colored dissolved organic matters (CDOM) retrieval. This study proposes a new algorithm that considers bottom reflectance in estimating CDOM absorption from optically shallow inland or coastal waters. The field sampling was conducted during four research cruises within the Saginaw River, Kawkawlin River and Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. A stratified field sampling campaign collected water samples, determined the depth at each sampling location and measured optical properties. The sampled CDOM absorption at 440 nm broadly ranged from 0.12 to 8.46 m−1. Field sample analysis revealed that bottom reflectance does significantly change water apparent optical properties. We developed a CDOM retrieval algorithm (Shallow water Bio-Optical Properties algorithm, SBOP) that effectively reduces uncertainty by considering bottom reflectance in shallow waters. By incorporating the bottom contribution in upwelling radiances, the SBOP algorithm was able to explain 74% of the variance of CDOM values (RMSE = 0.22 and R2 = 0.74). The bottom effect index (BEI) was introduced to efficiently separate optically shallow and optically deep waters. Based on the BEI, an adaptive approach was proposed that references the amount of bottom effect in order to identify the most suitable algorithm (optically shallow water algorithm [SBOP] or optically deep water algorithm [QAA-CDOM]) to improve CDOM estimation (RMSE = 0.22 and R2 = 0.81). Our results potentially help to advance the capability of remote sensing in monitoring carbon pools at the land-water interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-110
Number of pages13
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive estimation approach
  • Bottom effect index
  • CDOM
  • Carbon cycle
  • Land-water interface
  • Optically shallow waters
  • SBOP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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