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High-Resolution Maps of Bathymetry and Benthic Habitats in Shallow-Water Environments Using Multispectral Remote Sensing Imagery

Coastlines, shoals, and reefs are some of the most dynamic and constantly changing regions of the globe. The emergence of high-resolution satellites with new spectral channels, such as the WorldView-2, increases the amount of data available, thereby improving the determination of coastal management parameters. Water-leaving radiance is very difficult to determine accurately, since it is often small compared to the reflected radiance from other sources such as atmospheric and water surface scattering. Hence, the atmospheric correction has proven to be a very important step in the processingof high-resolution images for coastal applications. On the other hand, specular reflection of solar radiation on nonflat water surfaces is a serious confounding factor for bathymetry and for obtaining the seafloor albedo with high precision in shallow-water environments.

This paper describes, at first, an optimal atmospheric correction model, as well as an improved algorithm for sunglint removal based on combined physical and image processing techniques. Then, using the corrected multispectral data, an efficient multichannel physics-based algorithm has been implemented, which is capable of solving through optimization the radiative transfer model of seawater for bathymetry retrieval, unmixing the water intrinsic optical properties, depth, and seafloor albedo contributions. Finally, for the mapping of benthic features, a supervised classification methodology has been implemented, combining seafloor-type normalized indexes and support vector machine techniques. Results of atmospheric correction, remote bathymetry, and benthic habitat mapping of shallow-water environments have been validated with in situ data and available bionomic profiles providing excellent accuracy.