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Remote sensing of aquatic vegetation to comply with the needs of the Water Framework Directive

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

The objective of this review is to summarize the results of remote sensing in the assessment of the ecological status of surface waters and in surmounting the spatial and temporal scale issues manifested in monitoring according to the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Remote sensing of water quality has undergone significant development during the past four decades. Some ecological quality elements important in WFD can be determined with adequate precision in a wide concentration range by near-surface, airborne, and satellite remote sensing (primarily chlorophyll-a, suspended solids, and dissolved organic matter). With remote sensing methods, it is possible to distinguish algal phyla using remote sensing of pigments other than chlorophyll-a. Remote sensing is also applicable for reviewing distribution, coverage, and association structure of macrophytes. Some hydromorphological characteristics of water bodies, certain pollution sources in their catchment areas, as well as land cover and land use conditions of a river basin, which all combine to express its ecological status, can be analyzed by this method as well. Aspects of environmental quality that do not affect radiation can be reviewed by remote sensing only if they have a relationship with remotely sensed characteristics. Some ground truth data is still needed for remote sensing in many cases. The precision of satellite remote sensing is lower than the near-surface version, but it still can fulfill the "five classes" criteria of WFD-compliant classification. Finally, remote sensing may be a useful tool in extending the spatial and temporal validity of ground data of some quality elements according to WFD, as well as helping methodological intercalibration among countries.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Budapest University of Technology and Economics


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