Harmful algal bloom mapping for the Great Lakes using MODIS satellite imagery

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Great Lakes are becoming increasingly problematic as they occur more frequently, in larger areas, and with rising severity. Remote sensing utilizing both satellite and airborne imagery can be effectively used to map and monitor HAB events in the Great Lakes to help decision makers understand the extent of the problem. A satellite-based HAB mapping algorithm has been developed, tested and validated for western Lake Erie where severe HAB events have been occurring. The MODIS-based algorithm has been developed from in situ reflectance measurements and coincident pigment concentration samples that relate the concentrations of the observable, and non-harmful, chlorophyll-a pigment to the blue-green algae pigment, phycocyanin. The algorithm also utilizes ancillary data to help differentiate harmful from non-harmful algal blooms that can occur simultaneously. The decadal

time series for Lake Erie has been has been processed producing HAB extent (floating and mixed), onset and offset dates, and areas of possible water quality concern for each cloud free satellite overpass. These results were compared to those derived from a MERIS based HAB mapping algorithm and found good agreement between the two methods. Additionally, clear images of Green Bay and Saginaw bay have been processed and analyzed.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 The authors.

Publication Title

IAGLR 56th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research