Atmospheric correction of remotely sensed imagery of inland water bodies is essential to interpret water-leaving radiance signals and for the accurate retrieval of water quality variables. Atmospheric correction is particularly challenging over inhomogeneous water bodies surrounded by comparatively bright land surface. We present results of AisaFENIX airborne hyperspectral imagery collected over a small inland water body under changing cloud cover, presenting challenging but common conditions for atmospheric correction. This is the first evaluation of the performance of the FENIX sensor over water bodies. ATCOR4, which is not specifically designed for atmospheric correction over water and does not make any assumptions on water type, was used to obtain atmospherically corrected reflectance values, which were compared to in situ water-leaving reflectance collected at six stations. Three different atmospheric correction strategies in ATCOR4 was tested. The strategy using fully image-derived and spatially varying atmospheric parameters produced a reflectance accuracy of ±0.002, i.e., a difference of less than 15% compared to the in situ reference reflectance. Amplitude and shape of the remotely sensed reflectance spectra were in general accordance with the in situ data. The spectral angle was better than 4.1° for the best cases, in the spectral range of 450–750 nm. The retrieval of chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration using a popular semi-analytical band ratio algorithm for turbid inland waters gave an accuracy of ~16% or 4.4 mg/m3
compared to retrieval of Chl-a from reflectance measured in situ. Using fixed ATCOR4 processing parameters for whole images improved Chl-a retrieval results from ~6 mg/m3
difference to reference to approximately 2 mg/m3
. We conclude that the AisaFENIX sensor, in combination with ATCOR4 in image-driven parametrization, can be successfully used for inland water quality observations. This implies that the need for in situ reference measurements is not as strict as has been assumed and a high degree of automation in processing is possible.
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