Satellite observations of long term trends in optical properties of the upper Great Lakes

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



Satellite retrievals of water attenuation (kd), Photosynthetically Active radiation (PAR) and photic depth were used to characterize water clarity of the upper Great Lakes. Using a combination of SeaWiFS and MODIS ocean color satellite data, time series estimates of Kd, PAR and photic depth have been made from 1998 to the present for Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron on a 1 km grid throughout these three upper Laurentian Great Lakes. The time series provided insights into geospatial changes in Great lakes water clarity that were the result of introduction of invasive species, nutrient loading and climate change. The satellite water clarity retrievals compare favorably to in situ optical measurements collected near coincidentally to the satellite overpasses from research vessels, and document the dramatic increases in water clarity, as a result of the introduction of invasive mussels in lakes Michigan and Huron. The time series in Lake Superior, which is the least affected Lake in respect to anthropogenic forcing, exhibited little change in water clarity over the fifteen year observation period.

Publisher's Statement

© 2014 The authors.

Publication Title

IAGLR 57th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research