Impact of the spatial resolution of satellite remote sensing sensors in the quantification of total suspended sediment concentration: A case study in turbid waters of Northern Western Australia
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The impact of anthropogenic activities on coastal waters is a cause of concern because such activities add to the total suspended sediment (TSS) budget of the coastal waters, which have negative impacts on the coastal ecosystem. Satellite remote sensing provides a powerful tool in monitoring TSS concentration at high spatiotemporal resolution, but coastal managers should be mindful that the satellite-derived TSS concentrations are dependent on the satellite sensor's radiometric properties, atmospheric correction approaches, the spatial resolution and the limitations of specific TSS algorithms. In this study, we investigated the impact of different spatial resolutions of satellite sensor on the quantification of TSS concentration in coastal waters of northern Western Australia. We quantified the TSS product derived from MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-Aqua, Landsat-8 Operational Land Image (OLI), and WorldView-2 (WV2) at native spatial resolutions of 250 m, 30 m and 2 m respectively and coarser spatial resolution (resampled up to 5 km) to quantify the impact of spatial resolution on the derived TSS product in different turbidity conditions. The results from the study show that in the waters of high turbidity and high spatial variability, the high spatial resolution WV2 sensor reported TSS concentration as high as 160 mg L-1 while the low spatial resolution MODIS-Aqua reported a maximum TSS concentration of 23.6 mg L-1. Degrading the spatial resolution of each satellite sensor for highly spatially variable turbid waters led to variability in the TSS concentrations of 114.46%, 304.68% and 38.2% for WV2, Landsat-8 OLI and MODIS-Aqua respectively. The implications of this work are particularly relevant in the situation of compliance monitoring where operations may be required to restrict TSS concentrations to a pre-defined limit.
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