Lee, ZP, Carder, K, Arnone, R, He, MX (2007). Determination of primary spectral bands for remote sensing of aquatic environments. SENSORS, 7(12), 3428-3441.
About 30 years ago, NASA launched the first ocean-color observing satellite: the Coastal Zone Color Scanner. CZCS had 5 bands in the visible-infrared domain with an objective to detect changes of phytoplankton ( measured by concentration of chlorophyll) in the oceans. Twenty years later, for the same objective but with advanced technology, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS, 7 bands), the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer ( MODIS, 8 bands), and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS, 12 bands) were launched. The selection of the number of bands and their positions was based on experimental and theoretical results achieved before the design of these satellite sensors. Recently, Lee and Carder ( 2002) demonstrated that for adequate derivation of major properties ( phytoplankton biomass, colored dissolved organic matter, suspended sediments, and bottom properties) in both oceanic and coastal environments from observation of water color, it is better for a sensor to have similar to 15 bands in the 400-800 nm range. In that study, however, it did not provide detailed analyses regarding the spectral locations of the 15 bands. Here, from nearly 400 hyperspectral (similar to 3nm resolution) measurements of remote-sensing reflectance ( a measure of water color) taken in both coastal and oceanic waters covering both optically deep and optically shallow waters, first- and second-order derivatives were calculated after interpolating the measurements to 1-nm resolution. From these derivatives, the frequency of zero values for each wavelength was accounted for, and the distribution spectrum of such frequencies was obtained. Furthermore, the wavelengths that have the highest appearance of zeros were identified. Because these spectral locations indicate extrema ( a local maximum or minimum) of the reflectance spectrum or inflections of the spectral curvature, placing the bands of a sensor at these wavelengths maximizes the potential of capturing ( and then restoring) the spectral curve, and thus maximizes the potential of accurately deriving properties of the water column and/or bottom of various aquatic environments with a multi-band sensor.