Australia’s inland water quality ranks poorly among the world’s developed countries. In managing this issue, we face similar challenges to other countries, where consistent and accurate information on inland water quality over wide areas of the continent are required such that current conditions can be assessed and responses to other impacts such as land use, flooding and climate change investigated. However, conventional monitoring campaigns and data are costly to sustain, scarce and declining, have poor geographic and temporal coverage, and may be of variable accuracy.
We will explore the role that optical remote sensing could play in assisting us to objectively assess inland water quality over multiple spatial and temporal scales to complement existing, limited monitoring programs. The presentation will discuss the extent to which research has matured to simultaneously extract a number of relevant water quality variables from in situ and satellite optical data using sophisticated algorithms (e.g. chlorophyll, cyanobacterial pigments, sediments and dissolved organic matter).
We will also highlight that we know very little of the optical characteristics of Australia’s inland waters, knowledge that would help us better parameterize retrieval algorithms to a point where regional and continental assessment of a significant part of Australia’s inland water quality could be achieved. The ongoing challenges toward realizing the goal of accurate inland water quality products over wider spatial areas will also be discussed. These include sensor spatial resolution, cloudiness, atmospheric correction, limited in situ data with which to both provide adequate validation and to adequately parameterize algorithms.