UAV-based hyperspectral imaging for river algae pigment estimation and development of a low-cost multispectral imager

Riley D. Logan, Shannon M. Hamp, Madison A. Torrey, Rafa Feijó de Lima, Benjamin P. Colman, H. M. Valett, Joseph A. Shaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Harmful and nuisance algal blooms are becoming a greater concern to public health, riparian ecosystems, and recreational uses of inland waterways. Algal bloom proliferation has increased in the Upper Clark Fork River in western Montana, USA, due to a combination of warming water temperatures, naturally high phosphorus levels, and an influx of contaminants through anthropogenic nitrogen enrichment along its banks. To improve understanding of bloom dynamics, such as algal biomass, a UAV-based hyperspectral imaging system was deployed to monitor several locations along the Upper Clark Fork River. Image data were collected across the spectral range of 400 - 1000 nm with 2.1 nm spectral resolution during two field sampling campaigns in 2021. Included are methods to estimate chlorophyll a standing crops using regression analysis of salient wavelength bands, before and after separating the pigments according to growth form. Estimates of total chlorophyll a standing crops generated through a brute-force analysis are compared to in-situ data, resulting in a maximum r-squared of 0.62 for estimating filamentous plus epiphytic chlorophyll a. Estimates of total and epilithic pigment standing crops are also included. The salient wavelengths bands used to estimate these pigments were then used as the basis for creating a low-cost imaging system for identifying algal blooms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSPIE Future Sensing Technologies 2023
EditorsOsamu Matoba, Joseph A. Shaw, Christopher R. Valenta
ISBN (Electronic)9781510657229
StatePublished - 2023
EventSPIE Future Sensing Technologies 2023 - Yokohama, Japan
Duration: Apr 18 2023Apr 21 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceSPIE Future Sensing Technologies 2023


  • Algal Blooms
  • Ecology
  • Hyperspectral Imaging
  • River Remote Sensing
  • Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles


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