Wang, MH; Shi, W; Watanabe, S (2020). Satellite-measured water properties in high altitude Lake Tahoe. WATER RESEARCH, 178, 115839.

It has been difficult in satellite remote sensing to derive accurate water optical, biological, and biogeochemical products over high-altitude inland waters due to issues in satellite data processing (i.e., atmospheric correction). In this study, we demonstrate that accurate normalized water-leaving radiance spectra nL(w)(lambda) can be derived for a high-altitude lake, Lake Tahoe, using improved Rayleigh radiance computations (Wang, M., Opt. Express, 24, 12414-12429, 2016) which accurately account for water surface altitude effects in the Multi-Sensor Level-1 to Level-2 (MSL12) ocean color data processing system. Satellite observations from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) between 2012 and 2018 are used to evaluate and validate satellite-derived nL(w)(lambda) spectra, and to quantitatively characterize water properties in the lake. Results show that VIIRS-derived nL(w)(lambda) spectra are quite comparable with those from the in situ measurements. Subsequent retrievals of water biological and biogeochemical products show that chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration and Secchi depth (SD) are reasonably well-estimated, and captured normal seasonal variations in the lake, e.g., the annual highest Chl-a and SD normally occur in the winter while the lowest occur in the summer, which is consistent with in situ measurements. Interannual variability of these water quality parameters is also observed. In particular, Lake Tahoe experienced a significant environmental anomaly associated with an extreme weather condition event in 2017, showing considerably decreased nL(w)(lambda) at the spectral bands of 410, 443, and 486 nm, and significantly reduced SD values in the entire lake. The low SD measurements from VIIRS are consistent with in situ observations. Following the event in the 2017-2018 winter, Lake Tahoe recovered and returned to its typical conditions in spring 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.