High resolution satellite-based water depth mapping in the Great Lakes

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



The capability to map water depth using satellite imagery can help fulfill bathymetric mapping needs in nearshore regions, especially where other sources such as LiDAR and sonar have not been able to reach all areas. The ability to accurately map water depth with satellite imagery lessens the need for expensive field work to derive bathymetry. Using high spatial resolution commercial satellite imagery to map depth can provide bathymetry data with accuracies better than one half meter. Several satellite depth mapping methods exist and have been tested to determine their accuracies and limitations in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SBDNL) nearshore area. Traditional algorithms required several inputs to calculate depth that may not be readily available or have acceptable accuracy. A new technique has been developed that requires less ancillary input data than existing algorithms by deriving them directly from the image being processed. Accuracies of this new technique, when compared to coastal bathymetric LiDAR, are presented for the SBDNL which primary bottom types consist of sand and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). The new technique was also evaluated using several different high-resolution commercial satellite sensors, including WorldView-2 and GeoEye-1.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 The authors.

Publication Title

IAGLR 56th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research