Column integrated algal biomass provides a robust indicator for eutrophication evaluation because it considers the vertical variability of phytoplankton. However, most remote sensing-based inversion algorithms of column algal biomass assume a homogenous distribution of phytoplankton within the water column. This study proposes a new remote sensing-based algorithm to estimate column integrated algal biomass incorporating different possible vertical profiles. The field sampling was based on five surveys in Lake Chaohu, a large eutrophic shallow lake in China. Field measurements revealed a significant variation in phytoplankton profiles in the water column during algal bloom conditions. The column integrated algal biomass retrieval algorithm developed in the present study is shown to effectively describe the vertical variation of algal biomass in shallow eutrophic water. The Baseline Normalized Difference Bloom Index (BNDBI) was adopted to estimate algal biomass integrated from the water surface to 40 cm. Then the relationship between 40 cm integrated algal biomass and the whole column algal biomass at various depths was built taking into consideration the hydrological and bathymetry data of each site. The algorithm was able to accurately estimate integrated algal biomass with R2
= 0.89, RMSE = 45.94 and URMSE = 28.58%. High accuracy was observed in the temporal consistency of satellite images (with the maximum MAPE = 7.41%). Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the estimated algal biomass integrated from the water surface to 40 cm has the greatest influence on the estimated column integrated algal biomass. This algorithm can be used to explore the long-term variation of algal biomass to improve long-term analysis and management of eutrophic lakes.
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