Increased sophistication of high spatial resolution multispectral satellite sensors provides enhanced bathymetric mapping capability. However, the enhancements are counter-acted by per-pixel variability in sunglint, atmospheric path length and directional effects. This case-study highlights retrieval errors from images acquired at non-optimal geometrical combinations. The effects of variations in the environmental noise on water surface reflectance and the accuracy of environmental variable retrievals were quantified. Two WorldView-2 satellite images were acquired, within one minute of each other, with Image 1 placed in a near-optimal sun-sensor geometric configuration and Image 2 placed close to the specular point of the Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF). Image 2 had higher total environmental noise due to increased surface glint and higher atmospheric path-scattering. Generally, depths were under-estimated from Image 2, compared to Image 1. A partial improvement in retrieval error after glint correction of Image 2 resulted in an increase of the maximum depth to which accurate depth estimations were returned. This case-study indicates that critical analysis of individual images, accounting for the entire sun elevation and azimuth and satellite sensor pointing and geometry as well as anticipated wave height and direction, is required to ensure an image is fit for purpose for aquatic data analysis.
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