Many lakes in boreal and arctic regions have high concentrations of CDOM (coloured dissolved organic matter). Remote sensing of such lakes is complicated due to very low water leaving signals. There are extreme (black) lakes where the water reflectance values are negligible in almost entire visible part of spectrum (400–700 nm) due to the absorption by CDOM. In these lakes, the only water-leaving signal detectable by remote sensing sensors occurs as two peaks—near 710 nm and 810 nm. The first peak has been widely used in remote sensing of eutrophic waters for more than two decades. We show on the example of field radiometry data collected in Estonian and Swedish lakes that the height of the 810 nm peak can also be used in retrieving water constituents from remote sensing data. This is important especially in black lakes where the height of the 710 nm peak is still affected by CDOM. We have shown that the 810 nm peak can be used also in remote sensing of a wide variety of lakes. The 810 nm peak is caused by combined effect of slight decrease in absorption by water molecules and backscattering from particulate material in the water. Phytoplankton was the dominant particulate material in most of the studied lakes. Therefore, the height of the 810 peak was in good correlation with all proxies of phytoplankton biomass—chlorophyll-a (R2
= 0.77), total suspended matter (R2
= 0.70), and suspended particulate organic matter (R2
= 0.68). There was no correlation between the peak height and the suspended particulate inorganic matter. Satellite sensors with sufficient spatial and radiometric resolution for mapping lake water quality (Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel-2 MSI) were launched recently. In order to test whether these satellites can capture the 810 nm peak we simulated the spectral performance of these two satellites from field radiometry data. Actual satellite imagery from a black lake was also used to study whether these sensors can detect the peak despite their band configuration. Sentinel 2 MSI has a nearly perfectly positioned band at 705 nm to characterize the 700–720 nm peak. We found that the MSI 783 nm band can be used to detect the 810 nm peak despite the location of this band is not in perfect to capture the peak.
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